Just a reminder. COVID is a nasty nasty virus as it has just enough lag on median phase changes that we simple, slightly evolved East African Plains Apes have challenges in intuitively getting cause and effect.
Let’s imagine that someone was not infected in the last minutes of the Trump Presidency but was infected sometime in the first few hours of the Biden administration.
We have a few scenarios and option trees. Let’s go with a simple one where the person is not part of a screening testing program and is not being quickly contact traced.
Day 0 (January 20) — infected
Day 2 (January 22) — infected and infectious and feeling fine.
Day 3 (January 23) — infected, infectious and feeling a bit off
Day 4 (January 24) — infected, infectious, feeling off and goes to get a test
Day 6 (January 26) — infected, infectious and the test comes back positive and the person enters isolation after talking with their primary care provider.
This is a 6 day lag between the actual infection moment and the confirmation of infection.
Day 11 (January 31) — infected, not infectious and feeling like crap.
Day 13 (February 2) PCP tells their patient to go to the hospital (7 day lag between identification and hospitalization; 13 day lag between infection and hospitalization)
Day 19 (February 8) — Patient has consistently low blood oxygen saturation even while proned and coagulation problems. Patient is moved to ICU 6 days after they are admitted to the hospital.
Day 23 (February 12) — Patient dies.
That is not a particularly unusual hypothetical timeline. Some people will be tested and get their results earlier or later. Others will never be tested as they felt fine and were minimally symptomatic. Some people will be admitted to the hospital and be out in a day or two. Others will be admitted straight to the ICU. There is a lot of variance.
But there are, on average, notable lags between infection, identification, hospitalization and death.
Anything we do today will show up in next week’s infection counts and next months mortality data.