“That’s when I started texting everyone I touched in a week,” he said. Realizing how many people were visiting Provincetown from across the country, he also tweeted about the infection on Twitter and Instagram. Those who think they picked up some summer groceries while traveling, DMs are back. “They thought they were fine,” he said. “Then they tested themselves and it turned out that they also had the virus.”
One of the people Hollyhan texted was Donnelly. This may seem odd because Donnelly is not an epidemiologist. He is a policy geek who has done macroeconomic forecasting at the US Federal Reserve and data analysis at Spotify and Facebook. But since the beginning of 2020, Donnelly has also been using his skills to predict what might happen in the U.S. with the coronavirus, a way to make himself understand the flow of data from other countries and explain to others why they should be more worried than they are The way. “Basically, I want to convince my friends that this sucks,” he said.
Donnelly’s analysis originally published on Medium is solid. He had foreseen the need for federal action two days before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. He has warned that New York City must close six days before Governor Andrew Cuomo announces a statewide “pause.”This forecast led to a New York State consultation (projecting likely case counts, bed needs, and ventilator orders), which then established a CovidOutlook.infohis House of Reports and Predictions in collaboration with epidemiologist Michael LeVasseur of Drexel University.
So when the Delta variant started spreading in Provincetown, Donnelly was an unofficial but well-informed expert on what Covid was doing in America. “I’ve been tracking variants for the past six months, and in general I think concerns about them are overblown,” he said. He was surprised and annoyed when his friends started testing positive. He doesn’t like to make mistakes.
Rumors of people who tested positive spread quickly in group chats: most of the people in this house, everyone in that cottage; Pennsylvania group, California group, that couple from Washington; 10 people who tested positive, or 15 people, or 25 people. Donnelly began verifying the stories text-by-text, asking people about their symptoms and tests they received, when and when they were vaccinated, and all the details of their visits to Provincetown — where they lived, who they hung out with , which bars, restaurants and shows they went to. He started gathering information on Saturday afternoon, and by Monday he had more than 50 names in his spreadsheet.
The list represents a staggering number of breakthrough infections among the young, healthy, wealthy population that should be at the lowest risk. Donnelly wanted to do the research, but LeVasseur convinced him to hand the project over to an institution bigger than the two-man team. Donnelly got in touch with Demetre Daskalakis, the former head of the New York City Department of Health’s infectious disease program who now works at the CDC. Donnelly texted Monday night, providing the spreadsheet. Daskalakis demanded immediately.
Within 24 hours, Daskalakis established a telephone connection between Donnelly, the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Health. By the end of the week, the agencies had formed a task force, set up a phone number and an email for people to self-report, contacted other states where tourists were returning home, and had mobile testing units rolling toward Provincetown. “This It was the quickest response I’ve seen in public health,” Daskalakis said. “And Michael almost started this investigation himself.”