New York Has More COVID-19 Cases Than Italy

A startling statistic.

I find it useful to use comparative statistics to provide perspective. So, for example, the fact that we yesterday surpassed four times the 9/11 death toll from this virus is more meaningful than the raw number of 11,907.

Reuters‘ report “New York state overtakes Italy, has coronavirus cases second only to Spain” is similarly startling, if perhaps less useful.

New York state overtook Italy on Tuesday, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.

The U.S. state has 138,836 reported cases compared with Italy at 135,586. Spain has the most cases at 140,510. In total the United States has recorded 380,000 cases and 11,800 deaths.

The United States was prepared this week for what one official called the “peak death week” of the coronavirus.

New York state reported its deadliest day, with 731 new coronavirus deaths for a total of 5,489 fatalities, even as Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that hospitalizations appeared to be reaching a plateau.

European countries, including hardest-hit Italy and Spain, have started looking ahead to easing lockdowns after falls in their coronavirus-related fatality rates.

In Spain, the pace of coronavirus deaths ticked up for the first time in five days on Tuesday, but there was still hope the national lockdown might be eased soon.

Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 9 to slow the spread of the virus and Spain followed on March 14. New York state required all residents to stay home except for essential business on March 20 and now more than 94% of Americans are under similar orders.

The WorldoMeters numbers are slightly updated from Reuters’ report from late yesterday:

New York is indeed closing in on Spain:

But, here, the numbers aren’t all that useful.

Most significantly, while the total case numbers are similar, at least for the moment, the death toll has been massively higher in Italy and Spain than in New York. Both numbers will continue to go up but we can hope New York doesn’t catch up.

Still, the comparison is powerful in another sense: New York has far, far fewer people (an estimated 19.4 million) than Italy (60.5 million) or Spain (46.8 million). Even if we acknowledge that roughly half of New York’s cases are in New York City, which is a densely packed urban area, it’s not that much larger than Madrid — but it’s way bigger than Rome.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    This morning’s NYT has a fair critique of what went wrong in NY. Short version is the earliest days were bungled, but the state recovered but has never been able to get ahead of the curve. Good example of the early bungling is, when a woman returning from Qatar tested positive, De Blasio announced that the other passengers would be tracked down and that never happened. Also shutting down New Rochelle, but ignoring Manhattan, where the New Rochelle resident who contracted C-19.

    3
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Seeing as this is a Covid thread, via TPM: Possible Developments in the Treatment of Acute COVID-19

    Given the discussion that this is getting from peer-reviewed publications and the write-ups in Medcape, I feel comfortable that this is at least a legitimate question and discussion, whether or not it ends up producing better treatment protocols for the treatment of COVID-19. While Kyle-Sidell’s videos were the first I’d heard about this approach or theory emerging from the New York City crisis it seems like at least some physicians in Europe have come to similar conclusions.

    1
  3. steve says:

    1) As far as NYC vs Italy, this may just be amateur of testing. If the probability is high enough you dont test, and in Italy it was very high. I would follow total hospitalizations and deaths.

    2) As to Ozark’s article I think this is pretty well known, at least that is how we are treating it. This doesn’t really, at least in pts we have seen so far, act like bad ARDS. Really an oxygenation issue. They do tend to have a lot of thick secretions which causes issues. This does mean that we can use the back up ventilators to beer effect as they dont have the more sophisticated options of the modern ICU vent.

    Steve

    3
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Also Covid related, the NYT: ‘Swept Up by FEMA’: Complicated Medical Supply System Sows Confusion

    WASHINGTON — In Massachusetts, state leaders said they had confirmed a vast order of personal protective equipment for their health workers; then the Trump administration took control of the shipments.

    In Kentucky, the head of a hospital system told members of Congress that his broker had pulled out of an agreement to deliver four shipments of desperately needed medical gear after the supplies were commandeered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado thought his state had secured 500 ventilators before they were “swept up by FEMA.”

    For weeks, the Trump administration pushed states to procure their own ventilators and protective gear, like masks, gloves and face shields. But a new effort by the administration to create a hybrid system of distribution — divided between the federal government, local officials and private health care companies — has led to new confusion, bordering on disarray, and charges of confiscation.

    7
  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    And again…we don’t know the true extent of NY’s infection rate because our testing is STILL inadequate.
    Hospitalizations, and deaths, are the only numbers you can trust.

    3
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Kushner’s selling the stuff on e-bay.

    2
  7. Teve says:

    Laura Ingram just said the “experts” all lied and over estimated by a factor of 30, so we should all just go back to work.

    “Do you wanna know how stupid people are? Just think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are dumber than that.“ – Carlin

    8
  8. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    At the time of the swine flu pandemic, I thought the best course of action would be to implement extreme measures at the first sign of any deadly, airborne and/or person-to-person spread. even if that seems like a massive overreaction.

    This means travel should have been curtailed or stopped. Restaurants, schools, bars, theaters, clubs, beaches, parks, any place people congregate should be closed, except for essential activities. Business should be reduced, deadlines extended, elections postponed, etc.

    I admit this would be hugely thankless if it works. After all, it would be a massive big deal but there would be few infections, few hospitalizations, and fewer deaths. People would be outraged at having had to put lives on hold, for a terrible epidemic that killed a few dozen people and put hundreds in the hospital. It will seem like setting off a building’s sprinklers because someone lit a match. And next time no on will pay attention.

    But look at the alternative. we’re living through it. We need to make this method of dealing with potential pandemics the standard, we need the model to be well-known to all, we need measures in place to help, and we need people to remember the awful time we’re living in right now when the next deadly virus comes up.

    2
  9. Kathy says:

    @Kathy:

    After the 1985 earthquakes that devastated Mexico City, successive governments made preparations and changes to better withstand the next big quake. We have a seismic alert, which goes off with just mere seconds to evacuate buildings before the quake hits. We have better building codes. Vulnerable structures were strengthened or demolished. We do simulations every year. Many organizations have civil defense and evacuation plans in place. We have search and rescue teams.

    Changes have been incremental. The alert at first went off on the radio. Now there are loudspeakers all over town to broadcast it. You can also get apps hooked to the system.

    There are shortcomings, of course. the last big quake came through a route not covered by the seismic alert network. But the damage wasn’t as extensive, and deaths were fewer than they’d have been without all the preparations.

    This is what we need to have for pandemics. Notice the population is engaged in seismic preparedness. Via simulations, local safety brigades, tests of the seismic alert network, posters with instructions on what to do in the event of a quake. It’s present in everyone’s mind. We need to do the same for infectious diseases.

    We also need larger, better stockpiles of emergency medical equipment. Not just masks and ventilators, though those too. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, yes, but the next pandemic might be something else. A hemorrhagic fever, an intestinal malady, who knows? We have to be prepared for anything.

    5
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Serious dig at Trump, by IL Governor JB Pritzker:

    I want to express my sincere gratitude to the people of California & to
    @CAgovernor Gavin Newsom, who sent us 100 ventilators overnight for use by patients here in Illinois.
    It’s truly incredible to work with elected officials across the nation who are providing real leadership.

    Emphasis, mine.
    In the absence of leadership from the Federal Government generally, and the WH specifically, it’s lucky we have strong Governors who are stepping up; Newsom, Cuomo, Inslee, Pritzker, and others. LaMont, here in CT, is doing a great job…although most of our problem seems to be spread from NY.
    Trump is dead wrong when he shrugs his shoulders and says it’s not the Federal Governments job. Luckily there are other Public Servants that can step up when incompetence finds it’s way to the top.

    7
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    We have to be prepared for anything.

    This is a point that get’s missed. Trump has made a big deal about an alleged lack of ventilators in the Nat’l Stockpile. You cannot prepare for everything. What should we have piled to the rafters for the next emergency? Oh…you don’t know what the next emergency is? Then how do you know what to stockpile?
    That’s the point of the Defense Production Act…to allow the President to command industry to manufacture badly needed medical supplies when needed. And it is one of the primary failings of this President.

    5
  12. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You cannot prepare for everything. What should we have piled to the rafters for the next emergency? Oh…you don’t know what the next emergency is? Then how do you know what to stockpile?

    You know personal protection equipment will get used. Ventilators are a good bet, because most easily transmissible diseases are respiratory ones. Clean needles and IV bags and lines apply to a wide variety of conditions. Past that I’ll leave the matter to epidemiologists.

    But I do know a bit about how to keep a large inventory of perishable goods: you use them up in the order they came in, or first in-first out.

    This gets complicated when government has stockpiles of drugs, for example, which have a use-by date. Some machines will remain in good condition if you simply keep them in a dry space, others require periodic checks and maintenance even if they’re not used.

    I’d go further and demand large companies keep cash reserves of a sizable percentage of income or sales, perhaps in exchange for a tax credit on reserves, to be used in emergencies like the current one. If you ban stock buy-backs, they’ll find some other way to spend their money on themselves. Reserves are tangible assets.

    2
  13. Hal_10000 says:

    This comparison is useless. Indeed, almost any comparison from country to country is useless. The information we have is that only a fraction of those who are infected are being tested — in almost all countries. If the true CFR is say, 1%, then Italy has only tested less than 10% of those infected (which make sense, since they’re focusing on the sickest people) while the US is only testing about 30%. Both of those numbers are wildly uncertain. But we are certain that NY has tested as many people as the entirety of Italy.

    The big problem NYC has is one of the highest population densities in the world (30 times that for Rome) combined with a completely incompetent response from the Mayor.

    3
  14. steve says:

    “Laura Ingram just said the “experts” all lied and over estimated by a factor of 30, so we should all just go back to work.”

    A lot of this comes from the initial Imperial College model that gave an estimate if there was NO intervention. That number was much higher. However, they redid their model when the UK did go to mitigation (their numbers were going up so fast they needed to do that) and that estimate was in line, actually a bit lower IIRC, than the numbers Fauci uses. She is (surprise) lying.

    Steve

    3
  15. Hal_10000 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The big problem NYC has is one of the highest population densities in the world (30 times that for Rome) combined with a completely incompetent response from the Mayor.

    That should be five.

    3
  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @steve:

    “Laura Ingram just said the “experts” all lied and over estimated by a factor of 30, so we should all just go back to work.”

    A more accurate statement would be;

    “Our lack of testing has under-reported the extent of the problem by a factor of 30, and so if we all resume our normal lives there will be a massive second wave.”

    3
  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Breaking…
    Sanders is dropping out.

  18. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: well she’s promoting that the two million deaths projection was a certainty, which is idiotic. It was one of a range of projections depending on how seriously we took this. The two million deaths was if we didn’t do anything different at all, which is not what happened.

    1
  19. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “The big problem NYC has is one of the highest population densities in the world (30 times that for Rome) combined with a completely incompetent response from the Mayor.”

    It wasn’t great, but I’d say no worse than a semi-competent response. So far the mayor hasn’t denied the virus exists, claimed he’d stopped it, said only fifteen people had it and that would soon go to zero, dole out life-saving equipment on the basis of who said nice things about him and urged everyone to take some quack nostrum that has no evidence of efficacy but will bring great profits to many of his closest advisors.

    Oh, and he also didn’t keep mega-churches open once the virus was in full swing or order smaller jurisdictions to remove protections they had put in place.

    That’s what we call an incompetent response.

    Unless you are talking about incompetent for a Democrat — then I agree. We have some standards.

    3
  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If the true CFR is say, 1%, then Italy has only tested less than 10% of those infected (which make sense, since they’re focusing on the sickest people) while the US is only testing about 30%.

    Do you have a source for the 30% number? My impression was that there are still an estimated 10 to 20 unconfirmed cases for every confirmed case in the US. If it’s really only 2 unconfirmed, that’s vastly better (though still bad).

    1
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    This gets complicated when government has stockpiles of drugs, for example, which have a use-by date.

    This is actually kind of frustrating. I’ve done use-by dates on medical devices and know that these dates absolutely do not tell us how long it is safe to use these items. Testing for lifetime is an expensive process and although you can use thermal cycling to speed it up, it still adds substantially to the release schedule of a product. If it takes 9 weeks to test for a year shelf life, it would take 18 weeks to test for two years. So testing is only done to a commercially meaningful period, not to a medically meaningful one. For example one of the products I tested for went for an 18 mo shelf life test which was perfectly fine by the vast majority of customers because they turn over products much faster than that. Later, when a specific government demanded that such products have at least 24 mos, we just tested to that level, no product changes. We didn’t test any farther, and it would have been commercially unwise to try to guarantee for any longer than the minimum acceptable.

    The US military has enormous stockpiles of out of date medications that they regularly test for efficacy. The vast majority of non-refrigerated medicines are still perfectly fine years after their use by date.

    2
  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000:
    I watch just two numbers: deaths and deaths per million. Everything else is about testing. It’s the same principle that makes murder rate the most reliable indicator of crime rate – you can bullshit lots of things, but death is hard to re-label.

    2
  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Trump is dead wrong when he shrugs his shoulders and says it’s not the Federal Governments job.

    The more ironic part to me is that while he’s saying it’s not the Fed Gov’s job, he’s scooping up all of the stuff the states are trying to acquire for their own security and the safety of their citizens. It’s almost as if he told the states they were on their own because the Feds no longer even knew where to get stuff anymore and needed the help of the states in finding equipment for FEMA.

    3
  24. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’m unfamiliar with testing, but in food distribution we have to pay close attention to expiration dates, or best-if-used-by dates.

    Many suppliers assure me there’s a built-in margin. So things are safe to consume days after they expired. Some have assured me the date is kind of arbitrary, and their product can be consumed safely months after the nominal expiration.

    Kitchen and table salt has no expiration date. this makes sense because it’s an inorganic chemical compound, not appetizing to bacteria. Food spoils by bacterial action, mostly.

    Honey’s been found in ancient graves, and some was still good millennia afterwards. Honey has antibacterial properties, likely it evolved to protect the beehives, and was used as a dressing in wounds as far back as Roman times.

    1
  25. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    [..]but death is hard to re-label.

    “Advanced end-stage termination.”
    “Preemptive life dismissal.”
    “Cessation of metabolic processes.”

    3
  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    I’d go further and demand large companies keep cash reserves of a sizable percentage of income or sales, perhaps in exchange for a tax credit on reserves, to be used in emergencies like the current one. If you ban stock buy-backs, they’ll find some other way to spend their money on themselves. Reserves are tangible assets.

    I’ll have you know that the government demanding that corporations keep reserves represents an absolutely horrible example and an attack at the very rudiments of the capitalist system that God Almighty [TM] himself provided for our nation–the greatest nation ever created on God’s green earth. Additionally, even if corporations held reserves, that would only be a waste of the resources that corporations need for research and development, stock buy backs, and bonuses for corporate officers because the very government mentioned above exists at its core to distribute the losses of the owners of capital across the entire economic spectrum because of the shareholder relationship those owners have with the citizens of our great country. The citizenry needs to cover these losses as much as capital needs them to; otherwise, our country will fail and become one of those sh!thole countries our president is always talking about.

    Let’s have no more of this destructive socialist talk from you! Now, go to your room and think about what you just said and only come back when your ready to act like an adult again . X-(

    5
  27. Barry says:

    @Kathy: The idea is that there’s *probably far less* under-reporting of murders than of burglaries, robberies, assaults and rapes.

  28. Monala says:

    @Kathy: The FDA has a FoodKeeper website, that lets you know how long things are good for. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app

    1
  29. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t know. If you replaced all crosses with dollar signs in churches, would people even notice?

    1
  30. Kathy says:

    @Monala:

    Thanks.

    I wonder about their safety margin and conditions. I’ve kept meat frozen far longer than a year, at around -4 or -5 C, typical for a home freezer. At work we have -15 to -20 C freezers, though we don’t keep frozen stuff for long.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: That’s beside the point. Crosses, dollar signs, potayto, potahto. They’re all revered symbols and worthy of our respect and awe. Signs of our true spirituality and faith–especially the dollar signs.

  32. Bob@Youngstown says:

    While interesting that NY has more cases than Italy, the comparison should actually be made on a per capita basis:

    Disregarding all the testing abnormalities:
    Confirmed Cases: Spain 3,038 per million
    Italy 2244 per million
    USA 1222 per million
    Confirmed Cases

    COVID-19 Deaths:
    Spain 295 per million
    Italy 283 per million
    USA 39 per million

    Deaths