In a March 11 post, co-blogger Scott Sumner went Jeopardy style, with:

The answer: One week.

And the question? “What’s the difference between Italy and the rest of the Western world?”

Scott made the point that we are only a week behind Italy in the cumulative number of cases of Covid-19. He turns out to be roughly right. But fortunately, the most important comparison is the number of deaths and on that, we are doing way better than Italy did a week earlier.

On March 12, Italy’s total number of cases was 15,113. On March 19, the United States had 13,789. Pretty close.

But now, let’s look at fatalities. On March 12, Italy had 1,116 deaths. On March 19, the United States had 207 deaths. That’s over 5 times as many. So already I think we can say that we in the United States are strongly outperforming Italy on the main measure that matters.