Based on the statistics, is another coronavirus lockdown on the way?

They are thought to be considering a general lockdown over the High Holy Days to reduce the daily number of new cases and the R factor. Don’t be too surprised if that happens.

Calculating taxes (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Calculating taxes
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The government is deliberating whether to go for another general lockdown or make do with local lockdowns based on a “traffic light” color system. Every business needs to plan their activity accordingly. What can we glean from recent statistics?
The R Factor:
In coronavirus times, an important statistic is the R factor, in which R stands for reproduction. If we know the R factor, we know the trend of the disease, and businesses can surmise whether and where to employ people.
The reproduction factor is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.
An R factor of one means that on average every person who is infected will infect one other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable. If R is greater than one the pandemic is growing; if R is less than one the pandemic is shrinking.
This is according to the UK government website: The R number in the UK stood at 0.9-1.1 on September 2.
In the US, data is issued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Total COVID-19 cases in the US stood at 6,004,443 on September 2, including 288,876 in the last seven days, and total deaths were 183,050. But no R factor is given.
The Johns Hopkins University present graphs showing daily new cases in the US since the beginning of the year, and the trend to date. For example, in New York, daily new cases peaked at 10,824 on April 9, and are back down to 600-700 new cases per day. In California, daily new cases peaked at 11,604 on July 29, and have dropped to 4,000-5,000 per day.
The R factor is similar to daily cases but it helps forecast the upcoming future trend.
What about Israel?
In Israel, daily new confirmed cases and deaths are presented on a dashboard website of the Health Ministry. First, to recap on history using this dashboard, Israel experienced its first COVID-19 wave from March 10 to May 1, with 100 to 600 new confirmed cases per day. There followed a one-month lull from May 2-31 with fewer than 100 confirmed cases per day, then a pickup from 100 to 200 new cases in the three weeks from June 1 to 21.
The second wave began around June 22 when confirmed new cases skyrocketed from 300 to 2000 per day by July 21 and 3,074 this week (September 2).
Israel is now on a high plateau with around 2,000-3,000 new confirmed cases per day since then (compared with 700 in New York State and 1,500 per day in the UK, both with much bigger populations). Israeli corona-related deaths are now running at 12-20 per day (21 on August 31).
The second wave therefore seems around three times as powerful as the first wave, but this may partly be due to more testing. The number of tests is now around 20,000-30,000 per day.
The Health Ministry lists cities with high COVID-19 cases outright and rates per 10,000 people, including Jerusalem (19,170 cases; 29 per 10,000 people), Bnei Barak (10,256; 49), Ashdod (4164; 38), Tel-Aviv (5069; 15) Modi’in Illit (3779; 69) and Tira (918; 183).
How are the hospitals coping?
Hadassah-University Medical Center, Barzilai Medical Center and Shaare Zedek Medical Center hospitals are running at 90%-100% of their COVID-19 capacity. Most others are running at 50%-90% capacity.
What about the R factor in Israel?
The Health Ministry dashboard makes no mention of the R factor. So we tried estimating our own draft R factor data. We took the Health Ministry daily new confirmed cases and assumed COVID-19 patients may infect more people between five and 14 days after testing positive. Then, to allow for reduced testing on Shabbat and increased testing on Sundays, we took a seven-day rolling average to iron out weekend bumps. We tentatively estimate Israel might now have a national average R factor of around 1.2. When the pace of new cases was accelerating in July, we tentatively estimate the R factor was running at 1.7-2.4.
What are the implications?
Coronavirus “czar” Prof. Ronni Gamzu and the government will have to decide whether to let the present plateau of around 2,000-3,000 daily new cases continue for the sake of business and employment.
They are thought to be considering a general lockdown over the High Holy Days to reduce the daily number of new cases and the R factor. Don’t be too surprised if that happens….
As always, consult experienced advisers in each country at an early stage in specific cases.
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The writer is a certified public accountant at Harris Horoviz Consulting & Tax Ltd.