Note: This was supposed to post Friday morning. But it didn’t for technical reasons. Throwing it up late because I’ll probably wait until Tuesday and the release of Monday data to do another update. And I want people to have the latest charts for the weekend.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to write up my usual analysis of the charts. Maybe I’ll do that for Monday, we’ll see. But I do want to post the latest Covid-19 data on cases and deaths before we head into the weekend.
The overall picture is that things are continuing to get worse. You can see that in all states the fourth wave, driven largely by the Delta variant, is here.
When we look at deaths, last week I had mentioned how deaths were still trending down. But as a lagging indicator it was just a matter of time before the new cases led to new hospitalisations led to new deaths. And that moment appears to have just arrived.
I should point out that Delaware appears to have folded in their probable deaths in with their confirmed deaths, as many states had done months ago. So that spike of 135 new deaths isn’t “real” as in those deaths happened a long time ago. The pre-probable death number was the same as afterwards.
Another week, more bad news when it comes to Covid-19 in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Illinois. Last week I wrote about how the slight upticks in new cases in the states were not so slight. This week it’s more of the same, though it would be fair to say that the spread of Covid is beginning to accelerate, although in some states more quickly than others.
To start, the most basic of refreshers. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are all in the Northeast. Virginia is in the South. Illinois is in the Midwest. At a broad level, Covid is beginning to strike places with low vaccination rates and in particular has been hitting the South and Midwest fairly severely. You might say that Virginia has the northern suburbs of Washington and Illinois has Chicago, but in both states simply head south and west and you’ll very quickly find yourself in an entirely different culture, almost a different state in both. And it is in those parts of the states where the increase is most noticeable.
Conversely, the Northeast has had some of the highest rates of vaccination and the new Delta variant is taking longer to take root. Because, that’s the entire point of the vaccination process. We want to starve the virus of potential host bodies. But we needed to reach much higher than the 50-odd percent of the states to be fully vaccinated. So where are we? Let’s take a look.
The recent tails are curving up now and it’s plain to see. Two weeks ago the tails were barely noticeable in most states. You had to really look at the numbers to see the differences. Even last week in Pennsylvania and Delaware the tails were still fairly flat. This week is unmistakable. You may be over the pandemic and done with Covid, but the pandemic isn’t over and it’s not done with us.
In both Virginia and Illinois the seven-day averages for new cases rose by nearly 50% in the last week. Yesterday Illinois reported more than 2,000 new cases, the first single-day report that high since the beginning of May. And in Virginia we had more than 1,000 cases yesterday, again the most in a single day since the end of April.
In the tri-state area we also saw increases over the last week, albeit not as great as in Virginia and Illinois. Though they weren’t off the pace by much. In fact, at this rate, I would not be surprised if next week I write how both Pennsylvania and New Jersey see more than 1,000 cases in a single day. Neither state is there yet, as New Jersey reported 830 yesterday and Pennsylvania only 645—though it reported 986 on Tuesday. Both states’ seven-day averages are also a bit behind Virginia and Illinois, but again, I would not be surprised to see them nearing 1,000 though maybe not surpassing it this time next week.
I cannot overstate this next part, however. The virus is primarily infecting, sickening, and killing the unvaccinated amongst us. If you have not received your vaccine shots yet, please, please do. The vaccines have been proven safe. They have been proven effective. And they are free.
The good news, if we want to find some, is that the death rates largely continued to fall overall.
Largely. Keep in mind as I noted above, the deaths are almost all occurring in those who have not been vaccinated. Now in Virginia we are seeing the death rate increase, though not yet dramatically. Last week the seven-day average was three per day. This week we are at four.
But compare that to three of the other four states. (Delaware continued to have almost deaths and its average is zero.) Last week both Pennsylvania and New Jersey had averages of 5 deaths per day and this week they area at 4. And in Illinois the average fell from 7 to 4.
What I will be watching over the next week or two is whether these death rates begin to increase beyond Virginia. I mentioned before how deaths are a lagging indicator and we are beginning to reach the point at which, during earlier waves, where we could begin to see increasing numbers of deaths.
But again, the key is for any and all my readers who are unvaccinated, please make an appointment to get your shots as soon as possible.
I know that I typically post more light-hearted content on Fridays. But after taking a holiday Monday and my internet being down all day yesterday—fun fact, trying to type up a blog post on my mobile is…well suffice it to say I am glad that it is only an emergency backup plan—we are going to enter the weekend with some updates on the spread of Covid-19 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Illinois.
A little over a week ago I wrote about the emergence of slight upticks in our region of coverage. Nine days hence, those slight upticks are no longer so slight.
In all five states we are seeing significant increases in the numbers of new cases. In New Jersey we hit the milestone of 900,000 total cases. Three weeks ago, the Garden State had bottomed out with an average of about 160 new cases per day. Yesterday the moving seven-day average surpassed 500 for the first time since mid-May.
But New Jersey is not alone. In Illinois the seven-day average has doubled since my last post. The state reported just under 2000 new cases yesterday and that brought the seven-day average above 1000 for the first time since late-May. Before the spring surge earlier this year, Illinois had bottomed out with a seven-day average of about 1500 new cases per day. If these numbers continue, I would not be surprised to see the state back at those levels within another week or two.
Nor has Virginia been spared and yesterday Old Dominion’s seven-day average rose to just short of 500 new cases per day. That too is a level we haven’t seen since…wait for it…mid-May. The pattern emerging here is fairly clear. Things are beginning to get worse and get worse in a hurry. The average has nearly doubled since my last post about Covid.
We see the same situation in Delaware though it’s increase is on the smaller side. The seven-day average in the First State hit 50 new cases per day earlier this week, though it’s ebbed back slightly and sat at 48 yesterday. You have to go back to early June to find levels that high.
And finally it’s not as if Covid has spared Pennsylvania. Three weeks ago we were nearing 100 new cases per day. At the time of my last post, the seven-day average was just a little over 200 new cases per day. The average is double that number as of yesterday at 438 new cases per day. The Commonwealth has now reported three consecutive days of over 500 new daily cases for the first time since…early June. Surprised at that timing?
The common thread in these states is that the virus, almost certainly the Delta variant, is racing through the unvaccinated populations. And we are beginning to see rises in the numbers of hospitalisations, something that I don’t chart but on which I keep tabs. But what I do track visually are the deaths from Covid.
We need to keep in mind again that deaths are a lagging indicator and that it takes a few weeks from someone’s infection to their death, if that person’s case is severe enough.
The good news is that we are not yet seeing a corresponding increase in the numbers of deaths. Though it might still be too early for that, should it occur. Of course lack of death does not preclude one from suffering from long Covid, a debilitating and persistent illness that lasts for months. As for deaths, instead we see the numbers entering something of a holding pattern.
Starting with Pennsylvania, deaths from Covid-19 have halved since this time last month. But we were largely at that point when I last wrote nine days ago. Deaths haven’t fallen significantly since, dropping from 7.3 per day to 5.3 per day.
And that’s a pattern we see elsewhere. In Illinois deaths are also down nearly half from an average of 12 per day last month to just 7 per day. But they were at 9 when I last wrote. In New Jersey deaths were averaging 6 per day last month and now they sit at an average of 4.7. What was the average nine days ago? 4.7. Virginia is also similar, going from an average of 6 deaths per day to 4 and now just 3.
Delaware is the one state where we have some genuinely good news. Deaths had been averaging about 2 per day last month and we are at 0 today. Since the beginning of July we’ve seen only three additional deaths. That’s great news, but Delaware is also one of the smallest states.
The takeaway from this should be please get vaccinated if you’re still not. They are safe. They are effective. And they are free. Especially as this new Delta variant begins ripping through unvaccinated populations, I really hope my unvaccinated readers will take an opportunity this weekend to get their shots. Because remember, except for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you need two shots and you need to wait between those two doses. And then the vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in after that second dose.
So Mondays no longer work for these regular updates, because as we know Illinois no longer reports weekend data. Starting next week, neither will Virginia. Furthermore, keeping track of the vaccinations is tough, because the same. But also, then we have Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia, but Philadelphia only updates vaccination data twice per week.
Consequently, I’m not sure what I’m going to continue doing. But at the least, these updates of cases and deaths could continue, because after one cycle the zero numbers for Saturday and Sunday will average out.
The question is where are we today?
Well when it comes to new cases, we are seeing slight upticks across the board.
But whereas the upticks were slight last week in Pennsylvania and Delaware, they were a little bit greater this week. Still, we are far from drastic upswings, but they are noticeable. Look at the very tail end of Delaware and you will see a slight change in the curve’s slope. Pennsylvania’s is, for now, less noticeable.
In New Jersey, where cases had still been declining last week, the numbers are now heading back up. You can see this as well in the chart with a sudden little jump in the last day or so.
Meanwhile in Virginia and Illinois, the upward swings have clearly begun and they are plainly visible. But the numbers are increasing, because in Virginia today’s seven-day average is now the highest it’s been since the end of May. In Illinois, yesterday’s average was higher than today’s, but both are about the same as the average was in the beginning of June.
State departments of health indicate these increases are mostly all in unvaccinated people. And that’s not terribly surprising given that the new Delta variant beginning to take root in the United States is far more effective at viral spread than its predecessors. The worry is that the variant may be more lethal.
And to that point we are also seeing the seven-day average for deaths rebound in most states.
First, the exception. Delaware has now gone over a week without any Covid-19 death and its average now sits at 0.0.
In all other states, the trend is pretty clear if not visible in the charts. Illinois is the most obvious where the recent rise in deaths from Covid-19 can be seen in the sharp jump of the orange line at the tail end of the chart. The state is now flirting with double-digit death rates after hitting 11 and 13 deaths per day Sunday and Monday.
Elsewhere, we have numbers creeping up, but still below the levels we saw two weeks ago. On 28 June, Pennsylvania averaged 12 deaths per day. That had fallen to 5 for last week’s write-up, but today it sits at 7. New Jersey went from 8 to 4 but is back up to 5. And Virginia went from 6 to 3 and is now at 4.
Again, these are not catastrophic increases, to be clear. However, after several weeks of declining numbers of deaths the death rates are climbing once more. As with new cases, state departments of health point to the deaths being in the unvaccinated populations.
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to do so. They have been proven both safe and effective. And if cost is your concern, they’re free. This new Delta variant can make you sick even if you’re only partially vaccinated—only one of the two required shots for Pfizer and Moderna. Factor in the month+ you need from your first of the Pfizer and Moderna doses through the second and the two-week waiting period, it’s critical you schedule your shots as soon as possible.
I’ll try to look at writing up the numbers again next Tuesday or Wednesday, and over the course of the week I’ll be following these numbers. Though I’m not entirely certain I’ll continue posting them daily to my social media feeds. (In fairness, I’ve been busy enough to preclude me from doing that the last two weeks.)
In trying to limit my Covid-19 updates to Monday, bank holidays definitely affect the schedule. For my international audience, that meant Monday was a day of no posting. It also meant that some states—Illinois—were not reporting data. Add to that Illinois had already stopped reporting data on Saturday and Sunday, I wanted to wait until we had Tuesday’s data before putting it all together. And so here we are.
Last week I discussed “divergent patterns at the margins”. We saw some states continue their progress in decreasing the numbers of new cases with falls in their seven-day averages. You could group the tri-state area in this category. Then in the other group we had Virginia and Illinois where the seven-day average had begun to rise.
In the week since, this pattern largely held the same. Both Virginia and Illinois continued to see rising numbers of new cases. Compared to 20 June, before this pattern emerged, Virginia’s seven-day average sat at 129 new cases per day and Illinois was just slightly worse at 156. Yesterday those numbers were 180 and 328, respectively. A far cry from an emergency, yes, but also not ideal.
What about the tri-state area? Well we can now lump Pennsylvania and Delaware in with Virginia and Illinois since both states saw a rise in their seven-day averages. Back on 28 June Pennsylvania sat on an average of 177 new cases per day and Delaware was at 19. Yesterday those numbers were 181 and 27, respectively.
The difference here is that in both Pennsylvania and Delaware this recent rise is still below the numbers from 20 June. On that date Pennsylvania’s seven-day average was 261 new cases per day and Delaware’s was 28. So it’s not great, but it’s still not bad either.
How about New Jersey? The Garden State continues to see declining numbers of new cases. From the 20th to the 28th to yesterday the average has fallen from 179 to 176 to 162. Certainly not dramatic, but it’s progress nonetheless.
With deaths we saw broad and general progress, however, so that’s good.
Last week I mentioned how I had hoped we would see Pennsylvania’s seven-day average of deaths slip into the single digits. Instead it had climbed higher. Well, Pennsylvania finally fell into the single digits and rests at 5 deaths per day.
When we look at the remaining states we see good news across the board. In Illinois the seven-day average fell from 9 to 7 deaths per day. In two states the numbers fell by half. New Jersey fell from 8 to 4 and Virginia went from 6 to 3. Finally, Delaware now averages just 0.1 deaths per day.
I don’t have the data on vaccination, because there are some holes and I want to see if I can fill that data out. But in the three states we track, we are talking about less than a percentage point increase in fully vaccinated people over the course of over a week. That continues to be not ideal.
Technical difficulties prevented me from posting yesterday morning. But we’re back today and even though it’s a Tuesday, I wanted to begin the week with a post about the current status of Covid-19 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Illinois.
Broadly speaking, things continue to improve. I don’t have all the vaccination data plugged in yet as I have to admit that as life begins returning to normal the time considerations of keeping track of Covid is not always insignificant. But I do at least have the new cases and deaths to look at and compare to last week.
When we look at new cases, we can see some divergent patterns at the margins.
In the tri-state area, new cases continue to fall. Pennsylvania reported just 104 new cases yesterday and its seven-day average fell to 177. That’s great news. And in New Jersey, the daily new cases fell to 104 and the average to 176. And in Delaware the daily number was just 18 and the average 19.
On the other hand we have Virginia and Illinois. First, I should note that for the second straight weekend, Illinois did not report data. I think we can begin to assume this will be the new reporting schedule moving forward. Last week that impacted the seven-day average, but now that it is a periodic event we can see it accounted for in the average of 248 new cases per day.
The issue is that 248 is greater than last week’s average of 233 of the averages. In other words, there is some indications the virus is spreading once again. Though, the week-to-week numbers offer a slight hope. Last Monday we had 755 new cases—keeping in mind that no new cases were reported Saturday and Sunday—and yesterday 747. That is down, though not a lot. We will need to keep an eye on Illinois’ data and how it progresses through Friday.
In Virginia we see a similar pattern as that of Illinois. Week-to-week, yesterday’s number was just 88 new cases and last week’s 116. That’s good. However, a look at the seven-day average shows some reasons for concern. Last week we were discussing Virginia’s fall to 129 new cases per day. But as of yesterday the average has climbed back up to 165. And that’s not a one-day jump. Instead since that nadir of 129, the seven-day average steadily climbed each day last week. That suggests new cases may be spreading in Old Dominion once more. But let’s wait one more week before we begin to become overly concerned as 165 is still lower than the month’s current average of 169.
Deaths present us with the opposite pattern, however.
Last week we looked at new lows for the tri-state area whilst Virginia and Illinois saw slight increases. I even suggested that we could see death rates in Pennsylvania slip into the single digits.
Well instead we saw slight increases in the death rate in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Again, nothing massive. But on 20 June we had an average of 11.6 deaths per day in Pennsylvania and yesterday the average sat at 12.4. Not huge, and within a rounding of being the same number, but still an increase. Delaware had been at 0.6 deaths per day, so an increase to 1.6 is an increase, but there’s very little room left to improve when your average falls below 1 per day.
In New Jersey we saw perhaps the most concerning rise, though again still slight by comparison to the entirety of the pandemic. The average last week sat at 5.6 deaths per day and we enter Tuesday at 7.6. That is still lower than the numbers three weeks ago, but it’s a rise nonetheless. Like with the new cases, we will want to watch this week to see how the numbers progress.
I don’t have any graphics or tables to present for vaccinations, but the numbers we do have show little to no progress in full vaccinations over the last week. Week-to-week, Pennsylvania, for example, saw an increase of 0.77 percentage points, or only 0.11 percentage points per day.
Now Pennsylvania’s fully vaccinated population rate sits at just a tick under 48%. Not bad. But Virginia is at 50.5%. And when last reported Illinois was 47.3%. We know that herd immunity, which we need to really starve out the virus, is probably above 75%—though likely higher with more transmissible variants of the virus—and we have currently failed to achieve that number.
To bring my genealogical interest into this conversation, you only need to look to about 100 years ago when our ancestors did not, generally speaking, have access to vaccines. There was a reason people feared becoming ill, you were far more likely to die. But vaccinations eliminated the worst of the worst diseases and at the time people flocked to become vaccinated, recognising that they did not want to live in a world of mumps, measles, smallpox, or polio. If many of our ancestors were alive today, I believe they would be shocked at our society’s broad refusal to be vaccinated.
So today’s post will be a little bit shorter than usual. The big reason is probably good, but also worth addressing. States are increasingly less reliable about their data. For several weeks I have mentioned that Philadelphia had not been updating their vaccination data. Last week or two weeks ago I noticed a small line of text had been inserted saying they were ramping down reporting to just two days per week. That’s unfortunate, because Philadelphia County represents 1/9 of Pennsylvania and that can make a significant impact on the Commonwealth’s total numbers.
But this week we have Illinois. There’s been no update since Friday and it’s not clear if this is due to a glitch, or given the coincidence, a change in reporting schedule that omits weekend data updates. Not reporting for a weekend is not a big deal, as states often have to perform back-end server maintenance or clean up data and the best time for that is the weekend. But heretofore, Illinois had been the most reliable state in terms of reporting data.
There was one thing I wanted to address this week, but the lack of Illinois data makes that tricky. So I may have to wait and maybe do it next week or later this week.
Anyway, the data below is not quite as up-to-date for Illinois, but we’ll see how the Land of Lincoln addresses the issue probably today.
Otherwise, the numbers are good. Yes, the downward slopes are shallowing out and that is increasingly obvious, but there’s increasingly less room to drop. Pennsylvania, for example, last week was just over 400 new cases per day, but the seven-day average now sits at 261. Illinois last week sat at 336, but as of its last update, that was down to 237. Virginia’s decrease was smaller, from 143 to 129, while Delaware fell from 33 to 27.
Only in New Jersey have we seen the seven-day average rise, from 168 to 179. This was not a one-off spike, however. As the delta variant takes hold in the United States, the variant brings increased ease of transmission and more severe effects for younger populations, the population group last to vaccinate and increasingly seen as not willing to vaccinate. Is this driving the slight uptick in New Jersey we saw last week? It’s too early to say.
But it serves as a reminder to everyone, please, if you haven’t already, get vaccinated.
Deaths now appear to be dropping once again across the board.
Last we discussed Pennsylvania bottoming out around that 18 deaths per day level. After a week of declines, that average is now down to just under 12 deaths per day. If we see continued progress, perhaps this time next week I can be writing about the Commonwealth’s seven-day average dropping into the single digits for the first time since April 2020.
Illinois also looked like it was slowing, but again, the lack of data is making it hard to say one way or another. But at last report, the average was down to 14 deaths per day.
Last week we also discussed a slowing rate in New Jersey, and that continued to slow, but still continued to fall and deaths are now at 5.6 per day. And after a rise I noted last week, Virginia is back below double digits and at 6.3 deaths per day.
Delaware actually managed to hit 0.0 deaths per day for a stretch of two days last week as it went a week-plus without a single Covid-19 death. It has had a few reported over the weekend and so that number is up, but still below 1 as we head into the week.
Vaccinations remain the slowing curve that we saw last week.
Thankfully we can see Virginia is now approaching and, hopefully, can cross the 50% fully vaccinated rate by the end of the week. Pennsylvania, again, is hard to gauge. The numbers sit at 46.7%, but the Philadelphia numbers have not updated in four days, so that could add a half percentage point or, earlier in the vaccination push, more. Optimistically, however, we are looking at numbers nearing 50%.
Last week I mentioned how the rate of decline in new cases had begun to fall significantly, largely due to two factors. The first is good, that we are reaching low levels of new cases overall, but the second is bad, that we see a large proportion of the population hesitant to receive their vaccines. (The vaccines have been proven safe, effective, and they’re free. If you haven’t received your shots yet, I highly encourage you to do so.)
This past week that trend for new cases largely continued. But another issue I was concerned about was a slight uptick, given that last Sunday’s daily new case data was higher than the previous Sunday’s. So as we look at the chart of new case curves, how are we doing?
Good news. Those numbers are back on the decline and, in fact, the daily numbers from this Sunday are lower than those of even two weeks ago. We would have had a more muddled picture if the numbers were lower than last week, but still higher than two weeks ago. This leaves me more assured that the numbers are in fact still headed down and the few upticks are outliers and not a trend.
I also wanted to point out another data point this week. This coming week will mark the one-year anniversaries of the summer lows we saw in 2020. These were the points at which Covid-19 was at its lowest ebb after the initial spring wave and then the rise in cases beginning in late summer and early autumn. This most recent spring, despite the initial burst of reopening, our new case levels never fell to anywhere near the summer lows.
I will chart more of this likely next week as we hit all but one of those milestones. But as a teaser, today, 14 June was the lowest point for Delaware, which on that day had a seven-day average of 46 new cases per day. The average heading into today’s data release? 33. Or in other words, Delaware is averaging almost 25% fewer new cases now than it was at last year’s summer nadir.
But as we head into the week, you can see from the charts above that the numbers for all five states are quite low. Pennsylvania and Illinois lead, but are also some of the most populated states in the country. They sit at 403 and 336, respectively. New Jersey and Virginia, more middle-tier states in terms of population, are also fairly close with their new cases as their averages begin the week at 168 and 143, respectively. Delaware, as we noted above is sitting on 33.
So what about deaths? Last week I discussed a pattern of bottoming out, especially for Pennsylvania and Illinois. Unfortunately, I also noted how Pennsylvania had an aberrant large, one-day spike of deaths that influenced the seven-day average.
This week you can clearly see that spike in Pennsylvania phasing out of the data set. That’s good, because it allows us to begin to evaluate the true state of Pennsylvania’s average. That average? 18, which is squarely in line with the average before the spike. In other words, Pennsylvania may have indeed bottomed out.
Illinois, however, has resumed a slight push downward, as the seven-day average yesterday just hit 16, down three from Saturday’s 19. I’ll want to see that trend persist throughout the week before saying that Illinois has resumed declining death rates, but it’s a good start to the week.
In New Jersey and Delaware we continue to see falling numbers of deaths. This time last week we saw a small cluster of deaths that brought Delaware up from 0.3 deaths per day to 2.3. But Delaware is now back down to 0.3, perhaps the lowest it reasonably expected to be. New Jersey had just managed to fall below 10 deaths per day, and it’s nearly halved that at it enters the week at 6.3.
Virginia, unfortunately, is the outlier. Deaths had slipped below 10 for over a week. And last week they fell as low as 7.7. But as of yesterday they have climbed back over 10. We need to watch this week to see if there is truly a rising number of deaths or if we are seeing the emergence of more of a bottom or floor in terms of deaths.
Finally we have vaccinations.
Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia’s website has been broken for over a week and they’re now only reporting updates twice a week anyway. In other words, the data for Pennsylvania isn’t great. Because while we can report the rest of the Commonwealth, the City of Philadelphia—excluding the suburban counties—on its own represents nearly 13% of Pennsylvania. That’s a huge chunk to be missing.
That leaves us with Illinois and Virginia.
The good news is that they are going up and that Illinois just hit 45% fully vaccinated. Virginia is now at 47%. The bad news is that it took a week for both states to climb up one percentage point. More evidence that vaccinations are slowing dramatically with millions left unvaccinated.
And we’re going to need them to get vaccinated. Consider the United Kingdom, another Western country doing well in its vaccination programme and that had decided to increasingly open up large swathes of its economy.
That is now on hold for another four weeks. The UK had planned to end its lockdown on 21 June, but that will now be extended into the end of July. And it’s all due to the Delta, formerly Indian, variant that has taken root in the UK. It’s more transmissible than the earlier UK variant, which the UK called the Kent variant.
The Delta variant has emerged in small numbers here in the US. But in order to prevent another surge that could threaten our healthcare systems, we need to get people vaccinated. It’s not inconceivable that the US may need to reinstate restrictions or full lockdowns if the Delta variant were to take root and swamp the US healthcare system.
And so I will end this post as I began it. If you haven’t started your vaccination process, I encourage you to do so. The vaccines have been proven safe and effective. And if you’re worried about cost, they’re free.
Happy Friday, all. Apologies for the lack of posting yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well and sitting in front of my computer typing stuff up wasn’t happening. But now the weekend is nearly upon us and to get in the mood I wanted to share this great dot plot from xkcd. It captures something I’ve definitely been thinking about.
For example, on 3 March 2020, I had a friend over to my flat for drinks and to watch the Super Tuesday Democratic primary results come in. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, will be the first time I’ve had company over in 15 months.
In essence we have check boxes of the normal things we did in the before times and we’re just checking them off one by one until we can feel normal again.
Just please don’t contract a novel bat virus again.
Technical difficulties yesterday. But I wanted to run the latest Covid numbers to start this week of posting, so we’re just going to use the Monday data, which is the lowest of the week since it captures the data reported by authorities on Sunday. That said, where are we?
Last week we began to see a slowdown in the rate of declining cases, though, crucially, cases were still in decline. The good news is that cases continue to decline. The seven-day averages for all five states are now well below 1,000 new cases per day, with Illinois dipping below 500. Only Pennsylvania remains above that level at 544 new cases per day.
We are no longer seeing the numbers fall by hundreds per day, most notably in New Jersey, but we remain in a race to the bottom. Unfortunately, with significant numbers of the population refusing vaccination and the near certainty of this coronavirus becoming endemic, i.e. a persistent, circulating virus, we will never reach zero. The numbers at some point will bottom out and a slowing rate of decline could indicate nearing that point.
Deaths have continued their even slower decline over the last week. New Jersey’s seven-day average fell into the high single digits for the first time since November. Virginia, which had flirted with single-digit days, has now reported a week-long run of about nine deaths per day. Delaware, due to its low population only reached double digits for most of February, but has seen a slight uptick to over two deaths per day.
The two most interesting states with regards to deaths are Illinois and Pennsylvania, for different reasons. Starting with Illinois, we are beginning to see a pattern of bottoming out. For most of the last week the seven-day average has hovered about 20 with day-to-day changes of one or two additional/fewer deaths per day. We will have to watch over the coming week whether the numbers can resume pushing downwards or if we continue to see this bottoming out.
Then we have Pennsylvania. Through the beginning of the weekend, we saw progress as the Commonwealth’s seven-day average dropped below 20 deaths per day for the first time since October. Two days ago the Department of Health reported an additional 185 deaths, but then yesterday the total number of deaths dropped by 174. I haven’t yet been able to piece together what happened, but it does make the sudden spike in the seven-day average—to 46 deaths per day—a wee bit suspect.
Finally we have vaccinations. And the news is there is no news. Over the last week we have seen almost zero growth in the number of fully vaccinated individuals in Pennsylvania (1.8 percentage points), Virginia (1.53 pts), and Illinois (2.41 pts).
If we look at where the cumulative rates remain stuck, however, we see numbers in the mid-40s, short of 2/3 the estimated herd immunity range. The flattening of the curve, indicating slowing rates of vaccination, have become increasingly pronounced. This is not the curve we want to see flattened. Ideally this slowdown would have occurred nearer the 70% range and we could have eased into the estimated herd immunity range.
That said, we are approaching 50% in these three states and numerous communities, though not all, within these states are now over 50% fully vaccinated. But the longer we have largely unvaccinated reservoirs available, the more likely it is we will see new variants emerge that could potentially evolve to be more transmissible or even more deadly.
And so for any of my readers who haven’t received their shots yet, I encourage you to please do so. They’re free, they’re effective, and they’re necessary for us to get back to some sense of normal.