COVID Weekly Report: Cases declining in most of Washington, despite persistent hotspots

Each week we scour the internet to collect the latest information on the COVID battle from the global to local fronts. 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 slowed incrementally this week with 1.7 million new cases, down from 2.1 million last week (see our earlier reports for Sept. 9 and Aug. 31 for comparison). Deaths worldwide were also down, with just more than 31,426 added compared to 46,366 last week. The United States continues to lead the world in sheer number of cases, now surpassing 6.5 million, ahead of India, Brazil and Russia in that order.

Note that total U.S. COVID-related deaths now stand at more than 194,000, more than three times the number killed in the Vietnam war, and exceeding one-and-one-half times the combined populations Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

In our area, the Sept. 12 totals put Washington state and Snohomish County at 79,826 and 6,527 respectively, up from 77,545 (gain of 2,281) and 6,378 (gain of 149) 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 United States 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).

While the U.S. leads the world in overall case numbers, it dropped from 10th to 11th place this week in per-capita cases (expressed here as cases per one million population, ninth column from left), trading places with the other Western Hemisphere hotspot, Brazil. Note that with the exception of Brazil (pop. 213 million) all countries in this table have much lower total populations than the U.S. (See the complete interactive table here.)

Taken by region, the Americas — while still leading the world in the rate of new cases — continues to show an encouraging leveling trend, adding just more than 600,000 new cases last week, down from almost a million the week before.

In worldwide COVID deaths per 100,000 population, the U.S. remains in seventh place this week, despite increasing to 59.32 COVID deaths per 100K compared to 57.83 last week. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University.)


The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Sept. 12) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases at 79,826 with 1,991 deaths, up from 77,545 and 1,953 respectively last week. In addition, more 70,000 new tests were administered and tabulated since the last (Sept. 6) report.

The Washington state daily new caseload chart from Johns Hopkins University shows the numbers continuing to decline, with 544 cases added on Sept. 11, down from the July 18 high of 959, putting us in the eighth consecutive week of declining new cases.

While the general decrease is encouraging, hotspots continue to persist in college towns, prisons, hospitals and some counties. (See the interactive chart for Washington state on the Johns Hopkins website here)

This drop in new cases is also reflected in a Sept. 10 case rate of 83.8 (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average), a drop of almost five from the previous week’s report of 88.3. This metric remains short of the Department of Health goal of 25 but is moving in the right direction.


COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths in Washington state both continue their encouraging downward trends, reflecting the drop in overall cases. Hospitalizations are now approaching the historic lows of late May and early June, while deaths are down from the early August bump (note that the hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Sept. 12 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Sept. 11).

The charts below represent the third 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.

The Sept. 10 positivity rate is holding steady from last week at 3.3 percent, still short of the 2.0 percent DOH goal.

While overall statewide numbers are falling, significant variation persists among counties in achieving target levels for reopening under the Governor’s Safe Start program. Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties are still in modified Phase 1, while several others have moved to Phase 3. In our area Island County continues as lone county in the northwest quadrant of the state to qualify for Phase 3 reopening.

State demographic patterns continue unchanged, with the Sept. 12 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. 12 shows total confirmed cases at 6,527, and deaths at 205 (last week’s figures were 6,378 and 207 respectively, the decline in deaths due to subsequent data cleanup), and 122,452 total tests, up more than 5,000 from last week’s report.

The Sept. 12 county daily new case count shows a leveling off in late August and early September, but an expected decline to the all-time low levels of June as more recent data (grey bars) are processed and verified.

Critical county measures (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) continue to show the steady decline in active cases begun in early August. In other words, in Snohomish County we are getting well faster than we are getting sick (note that these numbers are through Sept. 5).

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. 5, 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, the case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) stands at 48.8, down from 52.9 the previous week, continuing the decline begun eight weeks ago and closing in on the DOH goal of 25. Officials attribute this to the more widespread awareness and acceptance of the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

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 has declined slightly at the county level but is still above that of earlier in the pandemic. The testing activity chart and table below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Sept. 12 and Sept. 5 respectively. Note that the positivity rate continues to decline, an encouraging trend.


The local situation in our home cities as of Sept. 5:

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. 5.

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 have been generally declining over the past four weeks, an encouraging sign that our local communities are taking the necessary measures to stay safe.  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 9/5:

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 Monday’s report come from the following sources:

— By Larry Vogel

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