Covid Update: 9 August

Late last week I provided a brief update on the Covid-19 situation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Illinois. Today I wanted to circle back to my statement that I’d update everyone again early this week. Of course, we had to wait until states began reporting their Monday data to get a better sense of where we are at in terms of new cases and deaths.

Spoiler: nowhere good.

Let’s start, as usual, with new cases.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

We can see just from the tail end of the charts above that new case growth is accelerating in nearly all five states. Nearly because New Jersey’s growth has remained fairly constant, in other words the number of new people getting infected is not becoming larger each day but remaining relatively flat. That said, compared to 28 July, my last more thorough update, the seven-day average for new cases is still up by 66%.

In the other four states we see accelerating growth, i.e. the number of people infected grows daily. Virginia and Illinois are perhaps in the worst positions. Consider that earlier this spring during the Third Wave, Virginia peaked with a seven-day average of 1615 new cases per day. Yesterday the seven-day average reached 1625. This Fourth Wave is making more people sick now than they were in the spring. Illinois is not yet at the peak of its Third Wave, 3390 new cases per day, but yesterday the Land of Lincoln reached 2713. It’s not far from that ugly benchmark. Can Illinois’ seven-day average see an increase of about 600 new cases per day in a week? Consider that one week ago the average was at 1914. That’s an 800-new case increase. I would expect that if my next update is next Tuesday we will find Illinois in a worse position now than it was in this past spring.

What about the last two states of the tri-state area? Fortunately—for now—both Pennsylvania and Delaware remain below, roughly by half or so, their springtime peaks during the Third Wave. In part, that’s because—along with New Jersey—the Northeast has some of the highest rates of vaccination. But none of those states are near the levels we would need for herd immunity, especially given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant.

In Pennsylvania the seven-day average for new cases is now just shy of 1500 new cases per day. Interestingly, if we halve the Monday data that includes both Sunday and Monday the daily numbers of new cases have declined for five consecutive days. I wouldn’t expect that trend to continue given the rampancy with which Delta is spreading throughout the Commonwealth, but that would be the signal in the data we would be looking for when this Fourth Wave breaks.

Delaware reports much the same. Cases are significantly up, but now so much so as to outpace the Third Wave. The First State’s seven-day average now sits at 185 new cases per day, but for the past four days the daily number has exceeded 200. Unlike Pennsylvania, that’s not the signal we would want to see to give us a sense the wave might be breaking.

What about deaths? Last week I mentioned we were seeing those numbers begin to creep back up despite falling during the initial weeks of the Delta wave.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

The tail ends here, with the exception of Illinois, are far harder to see. In Illinois, on 28 July the seven-day average for deaths bottomed out at 4 deaths per day. Deaths have climbed ever since, tripling to 12 deaths per day. Prior to yesterday, the state had seen double-digit daily deaths for five consecutive days for the first time since early June. These are signs that deaths are heading in the wrong direction. But if we want to try and find a glimmer of hope, those deaths started at 18 on 4 August, but have dropped each day landing at 10 on 8 August and just 6 yesterday. Fingers crossed?

In the remaining states the picture is similar in that deaths are rising, but not nearly as badly as they are in Illinois. In Illinois the death rate tripled, but to be fair it also did so in Delaware. Though that meant climbing from 0.1 to 0.3. In the states where we are seeing deaths from Covid-19, the rates have not even doubled. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the two closest to hitting that grim number. Their seven-day averages of 3.6 and 3.7, respectively, have reached only 6.6 and 6.4, respectively. Certainly not good, but perhaps we can be cautiously optimistic given the states’ relatively high rate of vaccination.

In Virginia we have seen the death rate climb from an average of 4.4 per day, nearly the same rate as Illinois, which has a lower overall rate of vaccination, to only 5.6 deaths per day as of yesterday.

It is important to note that vaccinations are doing a good job at keeping the vaccinated from needing to go to hospital or even dying. The phrase “pandemic of the unvaccinated” is very accurate. Whilst the vaccinated can become infected, most suffer very mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. The reason for masking is that the Delta variant can infect the vaccinated to such a degree that, whilst not sick, they can infect the unvaccinated.

If you have not been vaccinated yet, it is critical that you do so. They are safe. They are effective. And they are free. There are only a few valid reasons for not receiving the vaccination. And “not wanting it” or “not needing it” or “not trusting the government” or “not sure whence the virus came” are not valid excuses.

Covid Update: 5 August

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Get Your Shots

I’ve heard a lot about vaccine hesitancy and resistance lately and I mentioned this on Monday. Subsequently, I thought I would try to make a graphic to try and help people understand where some of these excuses fit on the spectrum of rational to irrational—with claims of people being magnetised off the chart in the land of kooky.

But I also realised there’s a second spectrum, albeit far more limited in range, of selfishness vs altruism. And there is an interesting shift in how those who waited for the most vulnerable to receive their shots first were, initially, altruistic and rational. But now that those populations have received their vaccines, it’s shifted into an irrational selfish behaviour.

Anyway, I made a few sketches and as I was working on it, there was something in the aesthetic quality of the sketches that I couldn’t quite replicate digitally. And so I present the unpolished rough cut of my graphic.

Just get your shots, people.

For the fuller explanations, I refer you to my aforementioned post earlier this week. This was just an attempt to visualise the two spectrums.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Where is it coming from?

I spent a good chunk of last week talking with people about reasons why people are not taking the vaccines for Covid-19 despite the fact they’ve been proven safe, been proven effective, and are free. I have heard a number of excuses in person—perhaps the subject for another post. But those are all anecdotal stories, though evidence that such reasons exist. Well this weekend I found some quantitative data.

The source is the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a group that focuses on health, health information and its communication. For Covid-19 they’ve been running quite a bit of information communication as one can imagine. One part of that? Public polling.

The latest survey covers the middle of June, but does include a question on why the unvaccinated remain unvaccinated.

Let’s start from the top, shall we?

I’ve got some quibbles with the design of the chart, primarily axis labels vs. a data label for every single bar, but I want to focus on the content today.

The vaccines is too new? I will grant you that it was developed very quickly. But there are two big reasons for that. First, to give the Trump administration credit where credit is due, whilst they didn’t really plan for a federal rollout of the vaccine they did eliminate much of the red tape and bureaucratic hassles that can slow down vaccine research. They did not, however, reduce the scientific rigour with which the vaccines were tested. Keep in mind that often times we heard stories of how the administration wanted to approve the drug well before it was ready. That is a sign that the testing wasn’t rushed.

Second, the mRNA method is new, but had been in advanced stages of research for a number of diseases including both influenza and zika. Scientists simply began to “reprogramme” the RNA bit to battle the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. In other words, we had been researching the type of vaccines for decades, but we just found a new target for its first widespread application.

Worried about side effects? Fair question. Last numbers I specifically saw were something like fewer than 300 severe allergic reactions out of over 3,000,000 million doses of Pfizer. In other words, that was a 0.01% chance. If you get Covid-19, the mortality rate is somewhere between 1% and 5%. In other words, you’re far more likely to get sick or even get sick and die from Covid-19 than from the Covid-19 vaccine.

Just don’t want to get the vaccine? Well now you’re being selfish. Vaccines aren’t just about you. They are a public health and safety measure. If you get sick, you put others at risk. In 1905, we heard similar arguments for people not wanting to get the new smallpox vaccine. (A disease we’ve almost entirely eradicated thanks to vaccinations, go look up how devastating it was to populations pre-vaccine. I’ll wait.) But these people who didn’t want the smallpox vaccine took their argument of “it’s a personal choice” all the way to the Supreme Court.

They lost.

The Supreme Court decided that personal liberty does have limits and can be overruled by what we call the police power of the state, specifically when personal liberty risks public health and safety. Here’s a simlar example. I have the freedom to speak without being censored by the government. However, I cannot go into a crowded theatre and scream fire. Because at that point I am endangering the stampeding masses. The government has the right to limit my speech in that specific area.

There are lots of things we don’t want to do, but have to do. Getting vaccinated is one of those things.

Don’t trust the government? Well the vaccine wasn’t developed by the government. The three big ones in the United States are Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. For my UK audience, you’re also looking at Oxford-AstraZeneca. I believe it was Pfizer even rejected accepting development money from the US government specifically to ensure that its research remained above reproach. In other words, the government hired the scientists who conducted the tests that proved the vaccines were safe for use.

But, and this is the kicker, the vaccines first began to roll out to the public in December 2020. We now have seven months’ worth of evidence and data in real world scenarios. The vaccines consistently have been proven safe and effective.

Don’t think you need the vaccine? Well like I said above, the vaccine isn’t about just you, it’s about society at large. We have personal liberty, but social responsibility. And your choice to not get vaccinated threatens and endangers the lives of others. Because there are, and we’ll get to this, some people who cannot receive the vaccine even if they want to. And you not getting it, threatens them.

Don’t believe the Covid-19 vaccines are safe? We spent nearly six months studying them in clinical trials and they were proven safe. We now have an additional seven months of real world, in the shit testing. And they have been proven safe time after time after time.

Don’t trust vaccines in general? If you’re grandparents or great-grandparents are still alive, ask them about how deadly smallpox was. Or maybe ask your parents about how terrible the mumps were. Or measles. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Turns out they were pretty terrible. There was a reason that older generations generally rushed to get vaccines, because they protect us from the scourge of viruses and bacteria. I haven’t seen a person with smallpox in my entire life because vaccines all but eradicated the virus. (It exists only within the bio-weapon laboratories of the United States and the Russian Federation.)

Have a medical reason why they can’t receive the virus at this time? Great, I mean, not great, but this is a real reason why people cannot and should not receive the vaccine for Covid-19. And this is why we want everyone who doesn’t have a precluding reason to get the vaccine, so that we can help protect you. But hopefully you’ll be able to get vaccinated at some point in the future.

Too busy or have not had the time to get it? Well, it’s been several months and it’s increasingly hard to believe you don’t have a half-hour or an hour to spare. It took me a 15-minute walk and then walked through an empty, snaking line for about five minutes, then had the little prick in a minute, then waited 15 minutes. Then walked home. Did that twice in a matter of weeks.

But let’s say you’re working crazy hours. Well, that’s one reason the White House is asking employers to give employees paid time off to receive the vaccine.

Don’t like getting shots? Neither do I. I told that to the corpsman who administered my first shot and I simply looked away. I’d rather get two little pricks than risk needing to go to hospital or die or infecting someone else.

Worried about missing work? As I said above, it doesn’t take long. The actual processing is just a few minutes. You have to wait longer in observation to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. But also like I said, that’s why the White House is pushing employers to give their employees paid time off to receive the vaccine.

Difficult to travel to a vaccination site? This would have been especially hard in the early months when the goal was to equip mass vaccination sites in city centres that could serve the most people the most effectively and the most efficiently. Since then, most pharmacies and many doctors offices are offering the vaccine. There are a number of mobile vaccination sites around.

Check out Vaccines.gov: https://www.vaccines.gov/search/ It will help you locate where you can get your shots.

Not sure how or where to get your vaccine? Again, check out https://www.vaccines.gov/search/ and search for wherever you live.

Worried you will have to pay to get the vaccine? You don’t have to! The government is footing the bill for all of us. All you need to is show up with the required ID to prove you are who you say you are, wait your turn in line, get your shot, and wait for your observation period. Then, if you receive either Pfizer or Moderna, because you need two shots, you go back and present them with your vaccination card, and do it all over again.

But nowhere in that do you have to pay.

That was it for the reasons in the survey. But like I said, maybe I’ll address some of the other things in a post later this week.

Credit for the piece goes to the KFF graphics team.

Covid Update: 28 July

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.

New cases curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid Update: 22 July

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid Update: 13 July

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.)

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid Update: 6 July

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid Update: 28 June

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

That’s sad.

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.

Covid Update: 20 June

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.

New case curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Death curves for PA, NJ, DE, VA, & IL.

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.

Total vaccinations for PA & VA.

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%.

Credit for the piece is mine.