COVID-19 Update: A Brief Respite in the Relentless Climb

Don’t get your hopes up. Yes, it is true that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health this morning dropped 40%, but don’t make too much of one day’s results. As the chart above shows, the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases shows considerable volatility.

Confirmed cases vary for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual spread of the virus, such as the number of tests administered, who is administering the tests (hospitals, private labs, others), and the length of time it takes to get results.

Still, it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And the drop-off does coincide with a smaller number of new hospitalizations — 23o compared to 390 the previous day, so we can hope that the decline was due to more than random volatility..

Another positive sign: the percentage of positive tests also has declined — from 11% today compared to a spike of 21.6% two days ago. At the very least, we can suggest that the spread of the virus is not accelerating. But don’t be shocked if tomorrow’s numbers tell a different story.

Total COVID-19 cases: 2,637, up 230 from the previous day
Total hospitalizations: 431, up 41 from the previous day
Total deaths: 51. (In yesterday’s post I listed the number of deaths as 52. I dare say that the number of deaths has not actually declined. I can conclude only that I made a transcription error yesterday.)
Total tests: 23,637, up 2,085
Percentage tests positive: 11.0%

And here, from the spreadsheet of John Butcher, are the current “doubling” rates for key metrics:

Case count: 3.4 days
Hospitalizations: 3.7 days
Deaths: 4.3 days

John’s calculations show no indication that the rate at which confirmed cases and hospitalizations are doubling, although they do suggest that the doubling of the death rate is slowing down.


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32 responses to “COVID-19 Update: A Brief Respite in the Relentless Climb”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Here’s an interesting projection for the country and per state:

    COVID-19 projections assuming full social distancing through May 2020

    Shows the Virginia peak near May 25

    1. Interesting but it seems optimistic compared to the UPenn “CHIME” model Wash DC is using. Being a UPenn alum, I am going with CHIME until further notice. Note that it shows a much later peak, which if true, implies summer activities like July 4 are less likely. But I must say most seem to go with the other model.

      “D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says modeling the city has done shows the District could see between 93,000 cumulative coronavirus infections and 220 deaths on the low end to more than 1,000 on the high end before the pandemic subsides. She also said the peak in possible infections and the need for hospital beds will come in late June or early July, later than initially expected.

      Bowser presented the estimates in a somber briefing to D.C. Council members — two who appeared alongside her, the others by video — at the D.C. Armory Friday. She said the estimates were drawn from the COVID-19 Hospital Impact Model for Epidemics (CHIME), which was developed by Penn Medicine. They are significantly higher than another model — IHME — that was considered, which put the peak of infections in mid-April and expected overall deaths at just over 200.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Thanks TBILL.. yes worth reading…

  2. djrippert Avatar

    Morbid as it may seem the death count is perhaps the only accurate statistic. No new deaths may certainly be a statistical anomaly but it may also be that the medical system is holding up and we’re protecting the most vulnerable effectively. As you say, we’ll see tomorrow.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I’m not even sure of the quality of the death data. Who is reporting – hospitals or the ME ? and to VDH? how often?

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      That assumes they are being found… I’m certain there may be a cat or dog being introduced to a new kind of Caesar’s Choice.

  3. CrazyJD Avatar

    I commend George Will’s article in the RTD this am. Mankind has always ignored threats until they are immediately upon us. But Cf. I have a neighbor who went out 9 weeks ago, bought a bunch of N95’s, and immediately bragged about it to me. When it became apparent that medical workers would need these things, I almost called him on the phone to ask him to give them up (He’s retired and has nowhere near the need of medical workers). Then I laid down and let the feeling pass. He didn’t buy an inordinate amount, and he hasn’t been profiting from resale. Good for him, seeing the obvious and acting upon it. Cf. Obama’s commission in 2014(?) that recommended ginning up our threat preparedness.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      re: ” Cf. Obama’s commission in 2014(?) that recommended ginning up our threat preparedness.”

      How so? Got an objective source?

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Looks like sample error. Not everybody called in. Watch tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, a cheerful cautionary tale:

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      “Looks like sample error. Not everybody called in. Watch tomorrow.”

      Should we laugh? Cry? Punch our fist through wall?


      Should we print JS’ earlier comment and save it, under the banner headline: “My rule: Never in the absence of strong evidence attribute to individual malfeasance what can be explained by bureaucratic self-defense mechanisms, sloth, awkwardness or incompetence.”

      Amazingly, it occurs to no one around here, or within the state, to fire the bastards.

      What the hell is wrong with us?

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        “What the hell is wrong with us?”
        If you meant that in a the royal sense, let me find my Psych 101 textbook and I’m sure I can find something that will fit you.

      2. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Granted, reporting and tracking are important at a time like this. But these people I would assume are not sitting around with nothing else to do….Perhaps my guess was wrong and its just normal data volatility.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          yep…. but we have folks out there that want the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth right now or govt has “failed” and is “hiding data” etc,etc… thanks for being a rational commenter!

        2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          Just as I figured. Case closed.

          Firing incompetent people for bureaucratic self-defense mechanisms, sloth, awkwardness or incompetence is foreign to today’s leftist progressives who can’t think through the idea.

          As JS would say, these modern day leftists are Unschooled in yet another of life’s realities. Hence, today’s governments are chock is self-defense mechanisms, sloth, awkwardness or incompetence, otherwise known as swamps. Hence our current mess.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            There may be SOME people who essentially did not do their stated duty and ran away. But anyone who stayed on station and did the best they could in a bad situation – and they have a lot of company in Va and other states, it’s just mean spirited and dumb to do that.

          2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
            Reed Fawell 3rd

            Yes, and as typically you do on this blog to everyone, you totally misstate what others, and here I, said over and over here, “Firing incompetent people for bureaucratic self-defense mechanisms, sloth, awkwardness or incompetence.” Other peoples lives here at a stake here.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            We’re not going to fire a bunch of folks over the pandemic. Get over it. Mistakes have been made and yes.. when we encounter something as momentous as something like this, it is inevitable that it’s going to be more than entire agencies had planned for.

            If the voters think that any Gov, including Northam did fail to do what they expected – he will never attain another elected office. If an agency head showed real malfeasance, then yes… but the kind of stuff some folks here are talking about is just plain partisan crappola and you know it is when words like “leftists” are used.

            Like it or not – the people who are currently in charge are, for the most part, doing the best they can do given the challenges they have. There are “failures” all around and across the board. We’re not hauling everyone up on charges because of that.

            get over it.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      I’m with you… wait until they’re certain it’s not just a hangover.

      dips on sundays

    3. djrippert Avatar

      That would make more sense than some enduring reduction.

  5. We can’t count on short term reporting to know where we are, but it’s all we have on a day-to-day basis. There may be a lot more tested, but not yet reported in the stats. Nursing home patients may be being cared for in their facility, and not moved to a hospital. We just don’t know.

    VDH still has this message on their Covid-19 page: “The Virginia Department of Health is conducting a large-scale investigation of a facility in the Richmond metropolitan area including extensive testing. The results from this investigation are still being tabulated and will be available in the daily report on Saturday, April 4, 2020.” What constitutes “large-scale?” Are results still pending?

    And then there’s the possibility that not as many online reports of cases or presumed cases from clinicians come in on Saturday and Sunday. Too many variables to do anything but wait and see.

  6. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    “At the very least, we can suggest that the spread of the virus is not accelerating. But don’t be shocked if tomorrow’s numbers tell a different story.”

    I would be very surprised if the virus is not still accelerating in Virginia based on Northern Virginia alone that likely will track DC region generally.

    However, I do think it’s likely that we will see light at end of the tunnel sooner than many now think. And that nowhere else in America will approach, or even begin to approach, New York City’s numbers or percentages of infections, manifested symptoms, hospitalizations, or deaths. I think we see those trends emerging right now, despite Andrew Cuomo’s and Larry Hogan’s warnings that Americans dearly needed to hear. But the country is so large, so complex, and so variable, and American’s are so mobile, and independent, that we will likely be looking at brush fires for a long time, including ones that may well ignite beyond bush fires into local epidemics.

  7. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Love them or hate them, so far America’s telecom companies are meeting the changed demand for connectivity and doing so without Obama’s idiot Network Neutrality Rules. How can that be? The critics of repeal have said the network would crash without FCC regulation.

    Moreover, even with old-time, strict common carrier regulation, carriers have been able to charge more for more capacity and speed, something the net regulators want to prohibit.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    No network-neutality rules? Ha Ha. You can bet right now, they’re are going to be good as gold right now… when we get back to “normal”… they’re gonna get back to maximizing their profits… no doubt.

    But right now, in the middle of this mess, all those predatory types are laying low – the last thing they want is to be on the 6 o’clock news or have the regulators go after them!

    Just to keep a little perspective. Would we think “rules” to keep Dominion from charging you more at high demand periods or charging you more for less use that high use use folks, etc?

    Obama thought the internet was like phone or electricity or gas, water/sewer service – a “public utility”. I agree, it’s an arguable concept but not one that we do not already have with existing utilities like electricity. and you, yourself have argued that you should not have to pay more if others start using solar and need less grid electricity, right?

    ON a conceptual basis – do you think Dominion set the rules for
    access to electricity or the govt ?

  9. WayneS Avatar

    The mistake in the total number of deaths is not yours, Mr. Bacon. The VDH actually did post 52 on Saturday and 51 on Sunday. I’ve been tracking the data myself. I heard mention of the discrepancy on C’ville Channel 29 news early this morning, but they had no explanation at that time.

    1. Virginian Pilot ‘s Peter Coutu said on April 5, “There have been 51 deaths attributed to the virus, a drop from the 52 announced Saturday. Lauren Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said three deaths were removed from the count while officials work to confirm the decedents’ illness. She wrote that two additional deaths were added to the count overnight – one each from the Thomas Jefferson and Prince William health districts – which brought the total back to 51.”

  10. WayneS Avatar

    PS – one minor correction – I got 23,671 total tests from the VDH website on Sunday, not 23,637. I think you may have transposed the last three digits in your number with the last three in total number of cases.

  11. LarrytheG Avatar

    Hadn’t seen this – perhaps interesting: LOCAL HEALTH DISTRICTS

  12. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Larry, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed by President Bill Clinton, sets American policy as favoring deregulation and competition. No FCC administration, except Obama’s, regulated Internet access as a Title II service. Title II services under Communications Act of 1934, as amended, regulates common carrier services. Internet access was always give light-tough regulation under Title I of the 34 Act until Obama interfered.

    Moreover, Internet-type services had been given light-touch enhanced service regulation since the 1970s. Internet access meets both the old (enhanced services) and new 96 Act (information services definition).

    Despite all of this history, the White House pressured then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to impose Title II regulation on Internet Service Providers. Some of the rules were comparable to those imposed under Title 1 by Republicans and Democrats alike. A key difference was the proscription of paid prioritization and zero-rating: providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over others due to consideration paid. This rule, which would require an ISP to handle all traffic at the same speed (except for permissible network management procedures) is inconsistent with decades of Common Carrier regulation (Title II) and is impossible to enforce.

    For decades and decades, customers were able to purchase point-to-point or point-to-multipoint services at different capacities and speeds. For example, customers could purchase a single voice-grade circuit, known as a DSO, for a specific price. A DSO circuit transports one telephone call. A person could connect a simple modem to this circuit and transmit data on the DSO – dial-up Internet anyone. A DSO’s capacity is 64 Kbps.

    But customers could also purchase DS1 circuit, which is a collection of 24 DS0 “channels” packed together in a bundle. A DS1 circuit has 1.544 Mbps of capacity. It costs more than a DSO. The customer need not use the service to connect 24 voice circuits but could simply transmit and receive data at a much higher speed.

    A DS3 channel is a bundle of 28 DS1 channels at higher price. It can connect 672 DS0 voice channels or send and receive data at a speed of 45 Mbps. As technology improve, even faster optical circuits became available at higher prices.

    So we need someone to explain why a customer (which could be a business, government or video provider) can pay more and get faster and higher capacity service unless the customer wants to transmit the data over the Internet. This is beyond stupid.

    Moreover, in a digitized world (where we live today), all data is sent in separate packets that are re-assembled at the end of the circuit. It’s impossible, without examining every packet, to tell which carries Internet data and which carries non-Internet data. How can anyone enforce the rules? Should we slow down all non-Internet-based data to comply with a completely stupid rule that flies in the face of decades of regulation under both Republican and Democratic-controlled FCCs?

    What is even crazier is that the Network Neutrality Rules applied to the carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Level3, T-Mobile but not the Internet Goliaths, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc. Who scares you most – T-Mobile or Google?

    The Network Neutrality rules would also prohibit zero-rating of services. That means a Verizon or a T-Mobile cannot give a customer access to a premium service, say Netflix or Spotify, without counting against data limits as an inducement to purchase service. This is inconsistent with decades of common carrier regulation where toll free service allows a business to pay the toll charges in order to encourage consumers to use the phone for contacting.

    One of the biggest groups complaining about zero-rating are start-up companies that don’t want to pay a premium rate for premium services. While most will go bust, some will explode into the market, making the principles billionaires, who won’t, of course, share their largess with the public. Subsidize startups, while screwing the 15 year-old who watches Netflix on her phone without busting her data limits.

    Happy to ask Tim Wu to answer these objections.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      TMT – Do you think the role of the internet these days is more than when it first came to be?

      Do we think of it today as more of a utility than a at-will service?

      If water/sewer gave special pricing to some users but charged more for others, would that be okay?

      How about electricity. Okay to charge you more than someone who gets a special price?

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        A public utility has a de jure monopoly on at least some part of its service (gas or electric distribution, water, sewer). It has the right to prevent a customer from using another supplier. No ISP has a de jure monopoly; ergo it’s not a public utility. Anyone is free to purchase service from any ISP operating where the person lives or works. (The FCC and states are spending billions of Universal Service Fees) to extend coverage, most especially in rural markets.) Some people have ditched their wired Internet service because they can get a faster wireless 5G connection. That will only increase over time.

        If a consumer can purchase broadband service from multiple sources, why should the service be regulated except for the same consumer protection laws that cover any sale of a good or service? I can pick and choose my trash/recycling provider. Fairfax County doesn’t regulate prices or terms and conditions of service. If my hauler won’t give me twice a week service and I want it, I just go to another supplier. If I can negotiate a better price from another supplier, I can swith.

        Ditto, if I don’t like what Verizon offers, I can switch to Cox or purchase wireless services. I used to have Cox. I had too many outages and VZ offered a better price. We switched. When my VZ contract nears expiration, I always check out Cox. But, so far, VZ has offered better prices and service.

        Even in rural markets, Wireless ISPs are expanding their networks using unregulated spectrum and Over the Air Reception Devices (OTARDs). The FCC will soon loosen the rules for WISPs in a manner that will let them expand services dramatically through hub and spoke installations that cannot be regulated by states or localities except for safety matters.

        The FCC has light-touch Title I regulations for ISPs. False advertising can be regulated by the FCC and FTC. The FCC also regulates access to advanced services, including Internet access, by people with disabilities.

        Fairfax County has different rates for residential and commercial sewer users. And as we all know from our many Dominion discussions, Dominion has different rates for consumers and large commercial customers.

        There is no reason to regulate Internet access as a public utility service.

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