Dude, What Happened?

Check out this graph from the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard. Look how dramatically the seven-day moving average of COVID-related deaths in Virginia plunged in early January. Peaking at 51 on Dec. 31, the average daily deaths dropped to 18 by Jan. 7.

In Central Virginia, one of five regions, the rolling average dropped to 1.14 deaths. Very similar pattern in Northern Virginia. The numbers haven’t been that low since March 2020 in either region!

The decline in deaths is considerably sharper than the drop for confirmed cases and hospitalizations, so the epidemic is far from vanquished. And the drop seems to have plateaued. Still, unless the numbers are a statistical artifact that does not reflect real-world trends, this looks like good news.


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38 responses to “Dude, What Happened?”

  1. djrippert Avatar

    Same across the world, including India. In Virginia, if you vaccinate the elderly the deaths will drop. Anybody who wanted to “follow the science” and prevent COVID-19 deaths would not have offered early vaccinations to teachers unless they were aged 65 and older. 35 year old teachers were not the people dying of COVID-19 – especially not those teachers who haven’t been in a classroom in a year.

    Had Northam by passed teachers under age 65 and focused on nursing homes the deaths would have dropped even faster.

    The big question is when to declare “victory”.

    It won’t be when the last case of COVID-19 is six months in the past.

    It should be when COVID-19 is running at roughly the same mortality rate as a bad year of the seasonal flu.

    That, by my guesstimate, is somewhere in the April – May timeframe.

    Will King Ralph undo his bizarre restrictions when they expire at the end of February? Don’t bet on it. Despots love power.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    “The big question is when to declare “victory”.”

    Thanksgiving. Election season will be over.

    1. Well played, sir.

    2. djrippert Avatar

      I have just the opposite thought. People are getting increasingly tired of the random restrictions. The vaccinations are rolling out and the deaths are dropping all over the world.

      The ruling Democrats are already under the gun for not reopening schools. I think Wise King Ralph better start the reopening long before the elections. Otherwise, he and his Dem pals may find they no longer hold the House of Delegates or the Governor’s mansion.

    3. Last time I checked the election was last November

      1. Elections for Virginia governor, lt. governor & attorney general, as well as the General Assembly are being held in November 2021.

        1. Yes, but point is that the goal posts are being moved. First it was COVID would magically disappear on Nov 4th 2020, but now its Nov 2021

  3. Lowering the cycle threshhold for a Covid test from 40 to 30…
    Also changing the classification requirements from “symptoms” to confirmed tests…
    Presto! “Cases” dropped
    Add in DJR above on vaccinating the right people and deaths go down…
    Our “expert” advice on handling this has been a disaster economically, psychologically and Constitutionally.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      sorry, I’ll take the experts advice over bloggers, even “smart” ones..

      1. djrippert Avatar

        There was no expertise in vaccinating healthy, young teachers who won’t go back to work anyway. It was just politics. So, a few more elderly die in nursing homes so Ralph Northam and the Democrats can pander to the teachers’ unions. No big deal for Wise King Ralph.

        There is an especially hot place in hell for people like Ralph Northam.

        The vaccines should have been given based on age first. That’s who is dying Larry.

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner


          Anybody mentioned that yet? Huge firestorm over that WSJ Op ed today. Watched the guy in an interview this morning and he is of course dead right that everybody ignores how many people have had this already and are now naturally immune. Herd immunity in six or eight weeks sounds good to me.

          Whackadoodle? No, Johns Hopkins prof…

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            This is yet another “smart guy” who is not an immunologist… Is he expressing a personal or professional opinion?

            Covid in India has also dropped ” But four months later, India’s coronavirus numbers have plummeted. Late last month, on Jan. 26, the country’s Health Ministry confirmed a record low of about 9,100 new daily cases — in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people. It was India’s lowest daily tally in eight months. On Monday, India confirmed about 11,000 cases.

            “It’s not that India is testing less or things are going underreported,” says Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University. “It’s been rising, rising — and now suddenly, it’s vanished! I mean, hospital ICU utilization has gone down. Every indicator says the numbers are down.”


            so, here’s the question – does this guys opinion have anything to do with India and is that a question that an epidemiologist might know more about?

            We just seem to have an environment now days where anyone who is deemed a “smart person” can pontificate about something that professionals in the field itself are still trying to understand.

            This comes directly from folks who also reject other science.. they just latch on to other folks opinions that they like…

            I don’t pretend the know the answer but why would any of us believe this guy – any more or less except we like what he says?

          2. Steve Haner Avatar
            Steve Haner

            “Smart guy,” wow — smarter than you are I on this topic, surely. Specialty is surgery, but also teaches in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and has written widely, is hired as a policy adviser. To just outright dismiss him because you disagree says more about you than him. In fact, it says ALL one needs to know about you.

            And his comments about more people having been exposed and being naturally immune therefore do line up with a growing body of hard research, and with what I’ve heard Gottlieb saying on CNBC regularly. If 7,000 have died in VA, that means probably 1.4-2 million actual cases. And VA has had fewer deaths than other states….

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            And YOU! The world abounds with “smart guys” but we are ALL ignorant just on different subjects.

            I take my science from people IN THAT FIELD -and preferably a majority of them , some consensus and I do that ANY DAY over one guy who claims he knows more than them but lacks the education they have.

            We have a world of “deniers” now days that do it on that very basis – “science” is now whatever smart guy you want to believe. Screw regular science.

          4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            “Currently, it is unknown if recovered persons are definitively immune to SARS-CoV-2 re-infection because biologic markers of immunity have not been correlated with protection from infection in humans. 7 days ago, CDC”

          5. I may be wrong, but I read his analysis to mean that 2/3rds of the country has been infected, which is the base assumption for the rest of his numbers and prediction. “These numbers indicate that roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population has had the infection.” Does anyone think that is true? I don’t think anywhere near 2/3rds have been infected but that is anecdotal.

            I do agree with his view that the immunity from a prior infection is more substantial that is being given credit for, but I’m reminded–by him–of the doctors early on giving the presser on the steps who said it was a hoax and don’t wear masks.

          6. Matt Adams Avatar

            “Nancy_Naive | February 19, 2021 at 5:33 pm |
            “Currently, it is unknown if recovered persons are definitively immune to SARS-CoV-2 re-infection because biologic markers of immunity have not been correlated with protection from infection in humans. 7 days ago, CDC””

            If that were the case a vaccine would be pointless.

        2. Don’t forget the inmates…

  4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Biden. Y’all said as soon as Trump was gone, so would be Covid. Guess it really was a hoax. Really funny to 1/2 million Americans.

    Cause of Death: SAR-COV2
    Manner of Death: Homicide, negligent.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Yep, right on schedule. But the problem is nobody will let the news be good. Now we have to scream about the variants. Complain there is insufficient proof that vaccines prevent spread. Keep ’em on their knees with fear!

      Larry rejects any “science” he disagrees with, so he will reject the WSJ doc’s conclusions out of hand. You might not.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Actually, I don’t believe any old guy who claims to be “smart” is speaking science necessarily. Science comes from people in that field not from others who say they are “educated”.

        We now have people who reject science from the people in that field and prefer ‘science” from people who don’t actually work in that field – seems like because we prefer their view.

      2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Oh, yeah, and it was clever how Europe, India, South Africa, … everyone got in on the hoax.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Grievances and conspiracies prove that science is wrong and govt wronger… 😉

    2. Your hyperbole is overflowing today…

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Observations of how we perceive “science” is hyperbole ?

        Perhaps.. but we do seem to have a crapload of people now days who PREFER to believe others, not in that field and reject what those in the field are saying.

        It’s one thing to argue with different viewpoints of people actually in the field itself – but to then reject that whole field of study and latch on to an author of a commentary who has no such credentials….just a degree..in another field I dunno… I can’t understand it except it’s clear science as a field is rejected.

        You can’t really call “science” as opinion coming from some guy who has a degree but not in the field IMHO much less a bunch of scientists in that field.

        How does one “smart” guy trump an entire field of study?

        1. What in the name of God are you babbleing about? Not ONE word of my comment was aimed at you. It is CLEARLY a response to a comment by Nancy_Naive.

          Tell me, Larry, what part of:

          “Cause of Death: SAR-COV2
          Manner of Death: Homicide, negligent.”

          is an observation on how we perceive science?

          The joke that you did not get was not aimed at you.

          Yet STILL you provided a condescending, arrogant lecture.


          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            what? blathering? geeze… I must have got the thread bulloxed..eh?

      2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Just not yet prepared to call it “pandemicide”. That would be hyperbole.

  5. DLunsford Avatar

    Why Joey B. took office of course!

    No, just kidding, but so much for the post holiday surge with all of those holiday partiers packed into small spaces.

    Even as variants pop up as they will with any RNA virus, I think you are finally seeing the long term effects of an exotic-to-man infectious agent coming to terms with the human immune system. Unlike influenza, another RNA virus, the SARS-CoV2 genome is not segmented. So there are only so many mutations that can occur which might enhance transmission and/or virulence, but will ultimately lead to burn out. This type of natural selection has been going on for millions of years.

    We’re also seeing the front end of the immunization curve and that will be enhanced as folks get their second inoculation and full immunity takes effect. Once the case fatality rate drops below the pandemic threshold (~5%) then its “light at the end of the tunnel”. But in order to get true herd immunity, we’ll eventually need to vaccinate school children and young adults. Even though they are no longer considered to be the super-spreaders they were accused of being in the early days of the pandemic, and even though they typically are asymptomatic, they would be a troubling reservoir for future outbreaks.

  6. Eric the Half a Troll Avatar
    Eric the Half a Troll

    Not sure but I think you could also be seeing the effects of improvement in hospital treatments. Probably a perfect storm of several factors…. or with Trump gone people just have more reason to live… 😉

    1. VDOTyranny Avatar

      > with Trump gone
      You’re falling for conspiracy theories again

  7. Anyone notice the shifting of death numbers in the racial/ethnic listings?
    Total deaths went up 8 in today’s report.
    Unidentified dropped 7.
    Asian went up 3.
    Black went up 20.
    Latino stayed the same.
    Native American went up 2.
    White went up 19.
    Other race stayed the same at 48 after dropping from 75 over the past 10 days.
    Two or more races dropped 29 today to 30 after a high of 79 ten days ago.
    No comments on VDH site to explain it.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Northam should appoint Count von Count to his cabinet. Maybe that would help with the record keeping. The Democrats already have Janet “Big Bird” Howell. What’s one more Sesame Street character?

      1. Looks like somebody woke up today and found a few overlooked deaths: 99 deaths, 67 hospitalizations for today’s report.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    Pretty good article in the NYT:

    ” When Could the United States Reach Herd Immunity? It’s Complicated.
    By Matthew Conlen and Charlie SmartFeb. 20, 2021

    With the vaccine rollout underway and coronavirus cases declining after a dark winter surge, it may seem as though the end of the pandemic is in sight. In reality, how soon could we get there?

    One answer lies in herd immunity, the point when enough people are immune to the virus that it can no longer spread through the population. Getting there, however, depends not just on how quickly we can vaccinate but on other factors, too, like how many people have already been infected and how easily the virus spreads.”


    The experts say it’s “complicated” and too many uncertainties still in play.

  9. Is there a summer 2021 Concert on the Park season, or not?
    Looks like there could be, but not sure.

    Funny, last year 2020 I was the one saying the 2020 stuff had to be cancelled. nobody agreed…almost nothing was cancelled until the last minute, so I had to be one saying my group had to cancel out (but everything was cancelled in the end) This year is sort of the opposite so far. Looks like we probably have Oktoberfest season anyhow.

    “Return to Normal” will be when community groups are allowed to use school space again for their evening activities. Any guesses?

  10. djrippert Avatar

    COVID-19 has been a boon for big government liberals. Constitution? We don’t need no stinkin’ constitution. The risk, of course, is that once people like Ralph Northam or Andrew Cuomo start breathing in the heady aroma of unfettered power they won’t easily give it up.

    COVID-19 will soon move from the realm of immunology to the realm of risk management and personal choice. Nobody doubts that highway fatalities would be reduced if the US implemented a 15 mph national speed limit. But we don’t. We don’t because free people are able to take some reasonable risks. Nobody doubts that fewer people would die prematurely if cigarettes were banned. But we don’t ban cigarettes because free people are able to make their own decisions. Nobody doubts that our national health care costs would fall if every citizen were forced into a mandatory 1 hour per day public exercise regimen. But we don’t demand that because free people shouldn’t be compelled to exercise if they don’t care to do so.

    And so it should be with COVID-19. If you believe Wise King Ralph and think that COVID-19 is more dangerous between midnight and 5am then don’t go out between midnight and 5am. If you believe King George III, err … Wise King Ralph that being served alcohol after 10pm increases your odds of catching COVID then leave the restaurant at 9:45pm. If you see a group of 10 people and don’t want to crash into the COVID danger zone by being the eleventh person in the gathering – stay away.

    The vaccinations are rolling out. The deaths are dropping. That’s all that should matter regarding government restrictions. Once COVID-19 becomes no deadlier than a bad year of the seasonal flu then all the unconstitutional restrictions imposed by jackwagons like Ralph Northam have to end.

    Frankly, I think he could end every restriction but the mask mandate when those unconstitutional restrictions expire on Feb 28.

    But will he?

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Wise King Ralph is teetering at the edge of absolute corruption.

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