COVID-19 Weekly Report for Sept. 28, 2020: U.S. surpasses 7 million cases and 200,000 deaths

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.

The global spread of COVID-19 continued apace this week, matching last week’s addition of 2.1 million new cases, (see our earlier reports for Sept. 21 and  Sept. 14 for comparison). Deaths worldwide were up slightly, with 37,221 added compared to 36,572 last week. The United States continues to lead the world in sheer numbers of cases and deaths — ahead of India, Brazil and Russia in that order. Note that this week the U.S. passed two grim milestones: Total cases now surpass 7.1 million, and deaths have topped 200,000.

In our area, the Sept. 26 reports show an uptick of new cases in both Washington state and Snohomish County. Total cases this week for the state and county stand at 86,269 and 6,905 respectively, up from 82,548 (gain of 3,721, up 1,000 from the previous week’s gain of 2,722) and 6,697 (gain of 208, up from the previous week’s gain of 170) a week ago (see overview maps below in the state and county sections).

The world and national situation:

The global overview map and chart from Johns Hopkins again shows the U.S. leading the world in overall numbers of cases, ahead of Brazil, India and Russia, the only other countries surpassing 1 million cases.

The most recent tabular display of the top 10 nations worldwide 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, a testament to how quickly new cases are diagnosed and added to the count).

While the U.S. leads the world in overall case numbers, it dropped from 10th to 12th place this week in per-capita cases (ranked here by cases per one million population, ninth column from left). See the complete interactive table where you can rank countries by any of the various metrics here.

Taken by region, the Americas continue to lead the world in the daily new case counts. As the chart below illustrates, this metric has shown a slight uptick in September after declining through August, suggesting increased viral activity in this hemisphere. Asia remains the region suffering the greatest daily case count increase.

In COVID deaths per 100,000 population, the U.S. remains in sixth place this week, increasing to 62.58 COVID deaths per 100K compared to 60.98 last week. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University).

The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Sept. 26) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases at 86,269 with 2,100 deaths, up from 82,548 and 2,037 respectively last week. In addition, 100,000 new tests were administered and tabulated, an increase of 9,000 since our last (Sept. 19) report.

And now for the discouraging news — after three months of steady decline in new cases, Washington state is showing a marked uptick for the last half of September, as illustrated below in the latest daily caseload chart from Johns Hopkins.  On the positive side, we are still below the July 18 high of 959, but it begins the fall season on a disturbing note (see the interactive chart for Washington state on the Johns Hopkins website here).

This increase in new cases is not reflected in a Sept. 24 case rate of 70.6 (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average), a drop of 4 from the previous week’s report of 74.6. This apparent contradiction is due to this metric being based on the average over two weeks and therefore including numbers recorded during the early September lows.

Trends in daily hospitalization and death counts typically lag behind those for total caseload numbers, as newly infected individuals advance through the course of the disease. This week’s trends continue with little change from previous weeks (note that the hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Sept. 26 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Sept. 25).

The charts below represent the fifth week of test results reporting under the new DOH protocols. These figures now reflect total testing volumes rather than just the number of new individuals receiving a negative or positive test result for the first time (i.e., if an individual is tested more than once, each test is counted).

The Sept. 24 positivity rate is down slightly to 3.1 percent from 3.4 the week before, remaining short of the 2.0 percent DOH goal.

While the underlying numbers have shifted slightly, there has been no change since last week among Washington counties regarding current reopening phases, with Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties still in modified Phase 1. In our area, Island County continues as the lone county in the northwest quadrant of the state to qualify for Phase 3 reopening.

State demographic patterns continue unchanged, with the Sept. 26 report following the familiar pattern of most infections among younger people, and most hospitalizations and deaths in older populations. Note that more than half the COVID-related deaths occur among those age 80 and older.


The Snohomish County situation:

The county numbers overview as of Sept. 26 shows total confirmed cases at 6,905, and deaths at 212. Total tests now stand at 138,070, up more than 8,000 from last week’s report.

The Sept. 26 county daily new case count reflects the recent uptick statewide, but as with the state numbers, it is too soon to tell whether this is an aberration or the beginning of a trend.

Trends in critical county measures over time (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) are shown below (these numbers are through Sept. 19). Note that after last week’s spike, active cases are again decreasing.

Cumulative case counts for the county continue to level out, another indicator that the spread of the virus is slowing in our area. These numbers are also through Sept. 19, come from the most recent weekly report from the Snohomish Health District, and do not include more recent and as yet unverified data.

Reflecting this trend, as of Sept. 19 the case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) stands at 41.7, down a full percentage point from the previous week, and while decreasing at a slower rate than previously, it continues to close in on the DOH goal of 25.

Hospitalizations and deaths at the county level continue to show little change from last week, reflecting the statewide trends noted in the demographic bar charts above (see tables below).

Testing activity at the county level continues at a relatively high level. The testing activity chart and table below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Sept. 26 and Sept. 19 respectively. Note that the positivity rate in the county has now declined to 2.5, an encouraging trend moving us closer to the state goal of 2.0.


The local situation in our home cities:

 Note: These data are taken from the COVID-19 Weekly Update report from the Snohomish Health District, which summarizes verified data as of the end of the previous week, in this case Sept. 19.

Critical metrics (total cases, recovered cases, deaths, and active cases) for our home cities are shown in the charts below.  The good news is that active case numbers are declining across the board (i.e., we are getting well faster than we are getting sick), an encouraging sign that our local communities are taking effective measures to stem the spread of the virus.  Note that death and active case figures are not available for Mountlake Terrace for 6/6, 6/13 and 6/20.

The local numbers summary, data as of 9/19:

Some more recent, but as yet unverified, current data are available on the Health District’s COVID Case Count page.

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

— By Larry Vogel

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