COVID-19 Update: Deaths Trending Down, Governor’s Metrics Trending Positive

The number of COVID-19-related deaths reported to the Virginia Department of Health has been falling the last week. (The May 7 spike you see in the chart above represents two days’ of deaths due to a glitch in the VDH system. The average for May 6 and 7 combined was 28 deaths.) The last four days have seen sharply declining mortality — to eleven reported this morning. These numbers are volatile, so we are likely to see worse days, but we can cross our fingers and hope the trend-line stays down.

Meanwhile, several other metrics are looking favorable for relaxation of Governor Ralph Northam’s emergency shutdown decrees. The Governor’s Blueprint has identified two key metrics (besides hospital capacity) that he is following. The first is a minimum of 10,000 tests daily; the second is a decline in the percentage of positive tests.

Daily COVID-19 tests: 9,479
Percentage of positive tests: 10.4%

As I have noted in previous posts, the 10,000 minimum daily COVID-19 tests appears to be arbitrary and lacking in scientific or statistical justification. The Northam administration has provided no public explanation of why that particular number of tests is needed in order to accurately gauge the spread of the virus.

Likewise, the second metric is useless as a metric. The fact that the percentage of positive tests is heading down reflects the changing source of the tests — from public labs and hospitals focusing only patients already in hospitals to a much broader cross-section of the population.

Whatever…. Anything that allows the Governor to justify in his own mind a decision to lighten the restrictions strangling Virginia’s economy is worthwhile.


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10 responses to “COVID-19 Update: Deaths Trending Down, Governor’s Metrics Trending Positive”

  1. S. E. Warwick Avatar
    S. E. Warwick

    Today’s VDH numbers indicate 11 new deaths, but 13 new deaths in “outbreak” settings.

  2. Top-GUN Avatar

    And exactly how Governor does doing 10k tests a date:
    Slow the rate of spread…
    Stop us from getting infected…
    Yes just a number that has absolutely no connection to why we declared an emergency or why we have a lockdown..
    Remember…. no vaccine, could take years to maybe develop one,,, in the meantime one way or another you’re gonna get it.. and yes it will eventually go through every nursing home, and they will have high death rates,,,
    End the Lockdown! !!! Today…

  3. ksmith8953 Avatar

    The more tests in the denominator, even if the numerator, or cases increases, the trend, or the numerator divided by the denominator, goes down. Simple math, but could be dangerous.

  4. ksmith8953 Avatar

    Keep in mind that you need to test more people than just those that think they have covid 19. You need to test a pretty much alike sample of the actual population. Thus, more tests.

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I think the point of 10,000 tests is to be surer of just what Jim seems to complain about–getting a much broader cross section. With just such a cross-section, one could have more confidence of a decreasing positive rate being indicative of a decrease in community spread.

    The number of positive cases in DOC is still rising, although only slightly. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, there were 7 more cases than the previous day. Almost all the new positive cases are occurring in Dillwyn and Buckingham c0rrectional centers. Those two facilities are adjacent to each other. DOC has tested all inmates at Dillwyn and is in the process of testing all at Buckingham. The number of inmates in the hospital for COVID-19 remains at its high point of 12. Finally, unfortunately, the number of DOC staff members currently testing positive continues to rise. At 78, that is 11 more than a week prior. Here is the summary:

    Summary of COVID-19 Cases in Va. Dept. of Corrections
    As of 5:00 p.m., May 10

    Cumulative testing positive 708
    Total Deaths 4
    Active positive cases in facilities 523
    Number in hospital 12
    Recovered 169
    Staff currently tested positive 78

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    The VHHA daily dashboard is now showing another downward trend in the hospital count. Good. That and the death count are the one’s I watch for signs. Both are lagging indicators, obviously.

    If everybody today got tested for active infection or antibodies from past infection, does anybody doubt it would be 500K to perhaps 800K Virginians who are or were infected? Certainly it would be a notable percentage in Northern Virginia and other more dense locations. Probably half of the population in nursing homes, other congregate settings. Our Fearless Leaders don’t want to say it, but the game plan now is leave the pot simmering and let it slowly work its will. If you are in a vulnerable category, stay hunkered down.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    In terms of the number of tests, is there some standard that, for instance, you might see if you looked at Maryland, or New Jersey or New York?

    If 10,000 is not the right number, what should be?

    Is there a standard that is suggested?

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      A story in Saturday’s RTD said that federal officials and researchers at Harvard recommend testing 2 percent of the population every 30 days. Virginia has tested about 1.4 percent of its population in the last month.

      It went on to say that leading researchers agree that a low percentage of positive results–roughly 10 percent–would show that the state has tested most of those who are likely sick and a sizable sample of the general population.

      Virginia’s population is about 8.5 million. 2 percent of that is about 170,000. 10,000 tests a day for 30 days would be a total of 300,000, more than the recommended 2 percent. To test the recommended 2 percent over 30 days, one would need to average 5,666 per day. Perhaps the Governor set 10,000 a day as a target, knowing there would be some slippage.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Looks like some criticism IS warranted. Just FYI – I do NOT see any signs of VDH-led systematic testing in the Fredericksburg Area.

        They ARE testing those who might be infected and some doc-in-the-box like Better Med are offering testing… but am not seeing random/surveillance testing…

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    In terms of the “open up now cuz you’re killing the economy” crowd.

    Looking at those meat packing plants that closed down NOT because they were told to close down but because they had contagion and actually what happened was the govt actually told them to OPEN UP – but then there are questions about the safety of the workers and what happens if more and more of the workers actually get COVID19.

    That’s the same problem for other businesses and institutions also including hospitals (it’s NOT the “beds”, it’s how many workers do you have), police, EMS , and yes, grocery stores…

    If we “open up”, how many more health care workers, EMS or grocery store workers get infected? How many grocery stores might close if too many of their workers get infected?

    The “open up now” folks don’t seem to care about this… they seem to have one mindset… and it’s pretty much along the lines of ” don’t try to confuse me with the facts and science, I want what I want and me and others are going to raise Hell if you don’t do it”.

    This is where we’re at.

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