How to Spot a Second Wave or New Pandemic in the Future

A few weeks ago, I asked if anyone had COVID-19. A bunch of people responded and said they thought they ALREADY had it in January/February.

My guess is this pandemic started in N.Y.C. in late January.

The attached graphic shows people who showed up at the ER in NY hospitals over the past few months with “flu symptoms” but were never tested for the flu.

See how the line veers down at the end of the normal flu season and then SPIKES up in early February.

Given that we already knew of the existence of COVID-19 in Wuhan, this could have maybe provoked a public policy response (or could in the future.)

I say late January because it takes about 10 days after infection for severe symptoms to show up.

What does this mean?

If true, it means N.Y.C. acted a bit too late on social distancing (nobody at fault. Everyone thought this was the flu). Which means we probably didn’t flatten the curve as much as other cities might.

Which means using data like this in the future might lead to more testing, mask wearing, and quarantining early on to avoid pressing on the limits of the hospital system in N.Y.C. (and other cities).

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