COVID-19 Update: Mixed Signals on Viral Spread

Here are three COVID-19 trends in Virginia worth watching:

  1. The seven-day moving average of the test-positive rate ticked upwards yesterday for the first time in more than a month;
  2. Hospital utilization by COVID-19 patients dipped to the lowest point since the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association began tracking the data in early April; and
  3. It turns out that multisystem inflammatory syndrome was not much of a thing.

Positive-test rate. The percentage of COVID-19 tests confirming the presence of the virus hit a seven-day moving average of 5.9% yesterday, based on data published today on the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 dashboard. That’s up from 5.8% the previous day. That doesn’t sound like much, but the seven-day moving average smooths out daily fluctuations, and it reverses what had been a steady decline since May. This number is an indicator that the viral spread in the general population, which had been retreating steadily, may start picking back up. This metric bears watching.

Hospital utilization. On the other hand, there is no indication yet that the greater numbers of infected people is translating into more trips to the hospital.
The number of hospital patients confirmed and suspected to have COVID-19 fell to 796, the lowest number yet since VHHA began tracking the data. Likewise the 225 COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Units and 101 on ventilators also represent the lowest rates for these metrics recorded by VHHA. How can confirmed cases nudge upward while hospitalizations are down? One possible explanation is that the virus is infecting more young, healthy people who don’t require hospitalization. Another is that docs are doing a better job of treating people before they reach the hospital.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Oh, and one more thing worth noting. Remember hearing about “multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” a potentially life-threatening complication in children resulting from COVID-19? The media flogged that story a month ago in its ongoing effort to keep people in a state of alarm. The VDH was worried enough that it began tracking the incidence of the complication on its dashboard.

You haven’t heard much about it recently, have you? Perhaps that’s because it turns out that the syndrome barely registers on the statistical radar. VDH reports only five cases of the syndrome in Virginia children, and zero deaths.

The reason you haven’t heard this is that national media outlets do only one thing: fear porn. They never engage in reflection. They never say, “Gee, maybe we over-hyped that story.” Reporters just move on to the next story as if they had finally found proof of the COVID apocalpyse they seem to yearn for.

— JAB  

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11 responses to “COVID-19 Update: Mixed Signals on Viral Spread

  1. Here’s a question. If it is true that the rate of infection is going up and it’s due to young people – who have a whole different attitude about the threat of the virus to themselves then would we expect that it is them who are getting tested more than before – and why – if the symptoms are minor or even asymptomatic?

    why would young folks be getting tested more?

    • Because they get contact traced to somewhere or someone who had symptoms and tested positive. That’s my guess. A restaurant in NoVa had a case and tested every employee. They tried to reach all the customers who bought from the place too. Lots of people who felt just fine were tested. I imagine some tested positive.

  2. Speaking of Virginia data and COVID-19, the linked article just came across my in-box because of previous involvement in Smart Cities. There is an organization called the Smart Cities Council, with many members, and this article nominates Virginia’s Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT) dashboard and its standing up a COVID-19 Decision map for VA executives in one week.

    I read up on the author, Philip Bane, and his public bio from LinkedIn is also included. The journalist sleuths at BR may want to follow up (or vote too) on this decision tool and the data made available for public consumption.

  3. Don says; “Lots of people who felt just fine were tested. I imagine some tested positive.”

    Quite likely, the majority, perhaps even the vast majority, of Covid -19 infected people, never realize they have or had disease. This is because they are asymptomatic, or have symptoms so mild they pay them no attention. Hence, in many places, the rates of infection are far higher, and have been occurring for far longer, than we realize even now.

    Jim says:
    Multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Oh, and one more thing worth noting. Remember hearing about “multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” a potentially life-threatening complication in children resulting from COVID-19? The media flogged that story a month ago in its ongoing effort to keep people in a state of alarm.”

    Yes, I remember this news as well. The press wanted to scare young kids and their parents, including the overblown story about Covid – 19 having a direct causal relation to the legitimate but rare childhood disease know for decades but recently claimed to float on the winds blowing east from Japan to the west coast of California.

    And then there is the scare tactic the hooked Dick. Namely the scare tactic that Covid-19, unlike other diseases, causes so much unusual collateral and long lasting, irreparable damage to the body. This was reported in Wall Street Journal even.

    Well, any and all diseases or accidental injuries to our bodies are capable of many collateral, or incidental, long lasting affects. Take diabetes for one of endless examples. This sort of stuff happens all the time. It is why the causes of each death often are so hard to fix with precision. Because like everything else in life, an injured or sick body unravels in many and variant ways, till death or cure or stabilization results. And every body reacts differently to the same disease or injury for endless reasons. So we always need perspective. And we always need to remember that we are not gods.

    Of course today’s viciously dishonest press often takes one example or two, hardly ever checks them out, but instead blows them all out of proportion to sell their own biases and agendas, or to create click bait nonsense that enriches themselves, pleases their bosses, or gains them celebrity or control over other people for the own gratuitous pleasure.

    Then, of course, there is the biggest Covid 19 lie of all: the massive denial of herd immunity. It is the most important, practical and often the only way to work our way out of plagues, pandemics, and spread of contagious diseases, generally. Here, the overweening pride and arrogance of our elites come in, their idea they (and they alone) are all knowing, all powerful, and godlike. That they can control and fix everything if everyone else pays them money and gives them control over us. And so makes them famous, important, and among the elite and privileged. Hence to gain these privileges for themselves, they must outlaw even the idea, not to mention of fact, of herd immunity, though without it, thousands to millions easily can die. Problem for elites is the herd immunity is too simple. And it happens naturally. Hence without the elites. So it deprives the elites of their power.

    • Reed, you are right about herd immunity. Once this covid virus has been around a few decades and people grow up surrounded by it, and nearly everyone gets it while young and relatively immune to a harsh case of it, and assuming that survivor immunity lasts a lifetime and/or we develop a vaccine that boosts resistance as needed, then “herd immunity” will kick in and Covid-19 should be no more a threat than a case of flu or the common cold we get from other corona viruses.

      There’s an entire nation that has chosen to do nothing but let the virus run its course and wait for herd immunity to kick in. Sweden. The Swedes will, indeed, be able to return to normal after that happens, even without a vaccine. They will be able to laugh at the rest of us when that happens.

      But at this time Sweden is a mess. They are paying a terrible price for that future laugh. I do not want to visit Sweden at my age, nor do most folks in the US and Europe; travelers from Sweden are unwelcome in return. In fact I am staying at home here in Virginia. How about you?

      • Good questions Acbar.

        For now, I think your some assumptions regarding re herd immunity and Sweden are wrong (at least in part) and overstated, or at best are way premature, plus your focus on harms is way too narrow. Plus there is great complexity and difference in each case, Norway versus Sweden, not to mention the US.

        I’ll reply further tomorrow afternoon.

      • Providing, of course, that there is a small measure of immunity. What if only lasts, oh say, 6 months? Lemme see, 360,000,000 at an infection rate of, say, 50,000/day….

      • Acbar – Given the above snark intrusion, I will do what I did with VirginiaGal’s intelligent question a few month’s back after a similar toxic snark intrusion. I will get back to you on this important issue at better time and place.

  4. I thought I previously commented on herd immunity back in March.

    What does that mean?

    For COVID-19 it means that 70% of the population must either have already gotten ill by contracting the virus and now have sufficient antibodies in their blood, and/or those that have been vaccinated.

    That means for the US, Herd immunity will have been achieved when 231M people have either contracted the disease or have received a vaccination.

    • Jim –

      Think about herd immunity by locale. Not by world. Not by Country. Not even by state. Also think about lock downs. What happens. How they expose large numbers of prime victims to big flare ups, like wind blown fires across dry, long fallen, and piled up brush and timber.

  5. Same story….
    Get it now get it later…. everybody loves crunching numbers ,,,,
    Meanwhile how long to we wait,,, how long do we wear masks, ,,
    1 more month, 2, 3,,,, choose a number, invent a number…. we’re what, 4 months in now, ,, how much longer do we damage our economy worrying about the health of other people,,, how long do we not educate children while we worry about a few people dying.,.. life needs to move on…
    And of course if folk and our Guvner Really Really Cared, smoking would be illegal,,,,, wouldn’t it,,,,

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