Is Maryland ready to reopen?

A visual analysis of Governor Larry Hogan’s decision to enter Stage 1 of reopening Maryland.

(This will be a post based on a thread of tweets I posted on May 14 with updated graphs for today – one days after the start of Stage 1 – and more)

Maryland is in state of emergency since March 5, 2020 due to COVID-19. Governor Larry Hogan announced on May 14 that Maryland will “gradually reopen with flexible community-based approach” (the official declaration is here). The MD Strong plan said “a 14-day downward trajectory of benchmark metrics – or at least a plateauing of rates – is required before recovery steps can begin“. This Phase 1 started yesterday, May 15, 2020. So, are we there already?

Regarding testing … After a peak in testing (up to 8k/day) and the arrival of tests from South Korea, testing is stagnating ~ 4k/day in Maryland. The daily % of positive tests seem to stagnate ~ 22% since May started and decline a bit, ok. Despite a peak, today, we are still far from the daily number of tests we could reach with the tests from South Korea. And there is still a high percentage of daily positive cases.

Regarding hospitalizations … Thanks to a drop in acute care during the last weekend and this one, the number of patients hospitalized seems to decrease since beginning of May. This sudden drop was followed by a slight re-increase. Hopefully this will continue to decrease (even if in waves like this).

Regarding deaths … Despite a record number of daily reported deaths, early May, and wide variations in this daily metric, it seems that we are plateauing/decreasing here.

So, we can cautiously understand the decision taken, based on data. Note it’s not a total opening: the “flexible community-based approach” means that counties (the government level below the state of Maryland) are empowered to make decisions regarding actually opening or not. And some counties took that opportunity. For instance, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles (on the East / South-East of Maryland, surrounding Washington DC and bordering Virginia) decided to remain closed. Baltimore City also decided to remain closed. It is understandable as all these counties are among the ones with most cases and most deaths. Here is a small infographics summarizing the Stage 1 reopening:

It will be interesting to see how the next 2 weeks evolve, and especially if counties that remain closed will have a different evolution than the ones that opened.

To be continued …

As usual, you’ll find other graphs on my page about COVID-19 in Maryland and the data, code and figures are on Github.

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