COVID-19 Weekly Report for Oct. 26: Virus numbers surge as ‘third wave’ arrives

Each week we scour the internet to collect the latest information on the COVID battle from global to local levels.  Our aim is to provide you – our readers – with a one-stop-shop to gain a comprehensive overview of progress in fighting the pandemic at all levels.

What many are describing as the “third wave” picked up speed this week, as critical metrics continued to rise on all fronts.

As reported by BBC News, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic imposed lockdown restrictions over the weekend, as the latest coronavirus wave rages across the continent. The UK recorded 19,790 new cases on Sunday. That country’s death toll remains the highest in Europe, rising by 151 to 44,896

According to Reuters, the U.S. has seen its highest ever number of infections in the past two days, and 29 states set new records this month. The City of El Paso has asked residents to stay home for two weeks as cases surge in Texas, joining other cities nationwide that are re-imposing restrictions in an effort to stem the rising tide of COVID infections.

Complicating the situation for Americans, as the U.S. presidential race enters the final week, the opposing political camps continue to aggressively push vastly different approaches for addressing the COVID situation, varying from abandoning efforts to stem the tide in favor of concentrating efforts on fast-tracking vaccines and other therapeutics, to an all-out effort to control the spread (masking, social distancing, etc.) combined with a more cautious approach to vaccines that includes meticulous testing before deployment.

To help you, our readers, navigate this sea of information and sort this out for yourselves, here are the latest numbers, charts and statistics from the world to our own backyards.

The world and national situation:

This week’s global count from Johns Hopkins shows a sobering worldwide wave of new cases. More than 3 million cases were added over the past seven days, up from 2.5 million last week and 2.4 million the week before (see our earlier reports for Oct. 19 and Oct. 12 for comparison). The United States continues to lead the world in sheer numbers of cases with 8.6 million. This week, five new countries – France, Argentina, Spain and Colombia – joined the U.S., India, Brazil, and Russia in surpassing one million cases. Worldwide deaths stand at 1.16 million, with the U.S. (now at more than 225,000 deaths) comprising almost 20 percent of the global total.

The most recent tabular display of the top 10 nations from the World Health Organization shows similar numbers, the discrepancies due to the updates being taken in different time zones (WHO is based in Europe, and due to time differences the numbers are approximately 10 hours earlier than Johns Hopkins).

While the U.S. leads the world in overall case numbers, when adjusted to reflect cases per 1 million population, the U.S. remains in 12th place. See the complete interactive table where you can rank countries by any of the various metrics here.

The sharp surge in Europe and the Americas is reflected in the World Health Organizations’ regional comparison below.

The U.S. remains in fifth place this week in COVID deaths per 100,000 population, increasing to 68.84 COVID deaths per 100K compared to 67.14 last week. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University).


The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Oct. 24) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases topping the 100K milestone at 102,913, with 2,296 deaths, up from 98,201 and 2,239 respectively a week ago. Testing activity shows more than 130,000 new tests administered.

The daily new case count for Washington state continues to climb toward the “third wave” (the first two occurring in April and July respectively). The most recent count shows 919 new cases on Oct. 24, up from 777 the previous week, and approaching the July 18 high of 959 (see the interactive chart for Washington state on the Johns Hopkins website here).

This is further reflected in the Oct. 22 case rate of 105.0 (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) up 9.4 percentage points from the previous week’s figure of 95.6 (84.6 the week before), further placing Washington state as part of the larger worldwide surge.

Trends in Washington state’s daily hospitalization and death counts are now beginning to reflect the general rise in cases as these newly infected individuals advance through the course of the disease. The grey bars on the hospitalization chart are based on incomplete data, and are expected to rise even further as these figures become finalized (note that the hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Oct. 24 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Oct. 23).

As illustrated by the two charts below, despite more tests being administered in Washington state this week (230.5 per 100K compared to 213.5 the week before), the positivity rate remained at 3.4%.

Despite the rising numbers, this week saw no movement in reopening phases in the various counties across Washington state. Note that the numbers to the left of the map also reflect this week’s uptick in the two-week rate per 100K of newly diagnosed cases and the increased testing rate.

State demographic patterns continue unchanged, with the Oct. 24 report following the familiar pattern of most infections among younger people, and most hospitalizations and deaths in older populations.  Note that while those more than 80 years old comprise a mere 4% of cases, this groups account for more than half the COVID-related deaths.


The Snohomish County situation:

The county numbers overview as of Oct. 24 shows total confirmed cases at 8,494 (up from 7,975 last week) and 228 total deaths, eight more than last week. Testing activity is up, with total tests now standing at 183,205, up from 171,978 the week before.

The Snohomish County daily new case count chart clearly shows the building “third wave” of COVID infections. Again, the grey bars indicate incomplete data, which is expected to increase as it is finalized.

Trends in critical county measures over time (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) are shown below (these numbers are through Oct. 26). Note particularly the steeper increases in total cases and active cases (the county now is poised just short of the 10,000-case milestone), reflecting the wider trends.

As of Oct. 24, the case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) continues the steep climb begun in mid-September, growing to 121.9, a level just short of the all-time high of 129.1 recorded during the first COVID surge in April.

The latest numbers on deaths at the county level are reported in the charts and tables below. (Compare these with the information posted above).

The testing activity table and chart below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Oct. 17. Note that both the overall number of positives and the positivity rate continue their upward trend, further reflecting the current surge and moving us further from the state goal of 2.



The local situation in our home cities:

 Note: With the exception of death numbers, these data are taken from the most recent updates from the Snohomish County Health District Snapshots and Reports web page. As data are verified, occasional true-ups are made in the interest of accuracy and these may result in changes to previously posted numbers. Verified death numbers lag by a week, and are taken from the  COVID-19 Weekly Update report from the Snohomish Health District. Because these are coming from two different sources, where necessary figures have been interpolated for clarity.

Critical metrics (total cases, recovered cases, deaths, and active cases) for our home cities are shown in the charts below. Again, note the overall upward trend particularly in Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.

The local numbers summary, data as of 10/26:

The data, tables and charts in today’s report come from the following sources:

— By Larry Vogel

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