CDC Data supports theory of much earlier COVID infection than has been reported.
- Data shows a dramatic spike in “Influenza Like Illness” in certain states as early as November of 2019
- A number of states appear to have already experienced an ILI and made it through to a more stable ILI footing for this time of year
- The US Military participated in the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan, China between October 18 and October 27 of 2019. Their chartered flights arrive and depart from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
- Washington is one of the earliest states to show a spike in ILI, corresponding with the incubation period should the virus have been introduced as the military traveled through Washington to other destinations.
The flu season began extremely early in 2019. Or did it?
An analysis of CDC data shows a dramatic uptick in “Influenza like Illness” or ILI beginning the week of November 9, and rapidly intensifying across key southern states, and one outlier- Washington.
The CDC defines an influenza like illness in this way: Case definitions for influenza-like illness are nonspecific for influenza and vary depending on the purpose for which they are used. A case definition of fever 100°F or greater, oral or equivalent, and cough and/or sore throat is used by CDC in its U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet), in which healthcare providers report the total number of patient visits and the number of patients seen for ILI each week.
China began forward facing measures to “control” the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus in December, with the first case now being traced back as early as November 17. However, given the nature of the CCP, we know that the virus was likely in circulation earlier. Using November 17th as a baseline, and moving backwards to track when likely infection occurred, we get a range between October 22, to November 2. This data will come in handy as we move forward.
The CDC numbers each week, starting at week 1 and moving through week 52. The photo below shows the ILI Activity Level in the US for Week 47; the week ending November 23, 2019.
Let us look at some line graphs for the states who experienced an early spike in ILI and compare it to other years. For all graphs below 2019 is in yellow, and 2020 is in light blue
Texas experienced an unusually high number of ILI reports beginning in November of 2019. While some of these cases were positive influenza cases, the large majority were negative for flu. For example, for the weeks between 11/16/19 and 12/28/19 the CDC received information for 35,897 tests performed to identify flu. Of those, only 10,471 were positive for any variant of the flu; 25,156 of those tests did not find flu virus of any variant. There were no available tests at this time for COVID-19, nor was it identified in the general population of the United States.
If you keep analyzing the chart, you’ll see that it appears Texas “peaked” in Week 5 of 2020, saw a small bump in the beginning of March (likely because of awareness of COVID-19 and more trips to the doctor.) and then has begun to level off. The “high point” of ILI in Texas was in Week 51 of 2019- NOT now in March and April.
The results out of Washington are stunning. Life Care Nursing Home, in Kirkland Washington was the focus of much media attention in the beginning of March, when the country began to learn about COVID-19 en masse. However, look at what Washington state was dealing with in late 2019.
Washington began to peak in Week 51 and Week 52. Week 9, which was the week ending on February 29 of this year, saw a dramatic uptick again, only for it to fall. Coincidentally, this was also the week that the first death from COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed in Washington state. Media reporting about the outbreak was possibly related to an increase in trips to the doctor at this time.
Here are the number of Emergency Room visits for ILI in Washington during weeks 44-52 of 2019:
Again we see the same pattern. In South Carolina, the number of ILI cases was dramatically higher than the past four years on record. The spike in South Carolina seems to have began in Week 51, surged again in Week 5, and now in Week 14 is leveling out.
In most cases so far, we have seen an approximately 8-12 week window between when reports begin to spike, and reports begin to level off to more historic numbers. This is reminiscent of a traditional epidemiologic “bell curve”.
Louisiana is interesting. ILI started rising in Week 45, leveled off a bit, began peaking again in Week 51, and then again during the first few weeks of the year, with the most illness being reported the week after Mardi Gras.
And last, but certainly not least, New York. New York City is viewed separately by the CDC, so we will examine the City as it’s own entity.
NEW YORK CITY:
NYC began the year on par with the 2018 ILI numbers. On March 1, 2020 the first positive COVID-19 case was reported in NY. March 1 would be represented in Week 10 on the chart. The city didn’t begin the practice of social distancing until the end of March, and schools were still open as of March 13. NYC began their ILI spike far after many of the other states we referenced here, and I will go out on a limb and make a bold prediction that we are about to see those reports lessen each week, and be back to normal by Week 21. That would be 8-12 weeks in the “curve”.
But why Washington?
UncoverDC featured a piece on March 20 entitled “Why Italy?” which explains possible factors that may have played in to the hot spot of COVID cases in Italy. We now ask the question “Why Washington”?.
The 2019 Military World Games, officially known as the 7th CISM Military World Games and commonly known as Wuhan 2019, was held from October 18–27, 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China.
China attempted to use the games as an excuse to blame the US military for bringing the virus in to Wuhan. However, it was likely the opposite. There were 9,308 athletes from 110 countries participating in the games. At the time of publishing, UncoverDC is unable to confirm how many members of our military participated.
We can confirm, however, that a major travel hub for US military flights originating in the Pacific and travelling to the United States arrive and depart from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Analyzing the initial presenting spike in ILI cases from Washington we see a marked increase in reported ILI the week ending November 23, 2019. That data represents a 10 day lag between the possibility of transmission of the virus, to people beginning to go to the doctor and report illness. From there, military likely took flights back to their home bases, many of which are in the states dis-proportionally effected by an “early” ILI season.
While the above is somewhat speculative, it does explain an early Washington hotbed.
What does it all mean?
It is clear from the CDC data that a number of states in the country experienced an onslaught of ILI beginning in November of 2019, much earlier and much more substantive than the four previous years. UncoverDC received almost 1,000 responses from Americans who have experienced a “COVID-like” illness in the months before the pandemic was declared and the US government began implementing measures to “flatten the curve”. The majority were tested for flu, with results coming back negative. Many of them fought through it on their own. Some were hospitalized.
The implications of this are many. If many more people than originally thought have already had this virus, and survived, it means that Americans in those areas are likely able to return to normal life. It gives us a broader data set to look at in terms of fatality, length of illness, treatment measures, etc.
It also showcases the need for antibody testing to begin in rapid fashion, and begs the question “Why doesn’t the CDC already know this?” UncoverDC used their data.
If the COVID-19 virus has already swept through much of the country already, (unabated because it wasn’t identified) there are many questions the American people need to be asking of Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and the rest of the team advising President Trump. It’s about time we consider that.
We would like to thank Twitter user @ET_mjttech and @ACitizen999 for their help with turning the data into visuals for this piece.
Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief of UncoverDC. Follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz