COVID Weekly Report for Sept. 9, 2020 — Local numbers in second month of decline; no letup worldwide

Each week we scour the internet to pull together the latest information on the COVID battle from the global to hyper-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 worldwide spread of COVID-19 increased slightly this week, adding 2.1 million cases compared to 1.8 million the previous week (see our earlier reports for Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 for comparison). Deaths worldwide were also up, with just more than 46,000 added compared to 37,000 last week. The United States continues to lead the world in sheer number of cases, now surpassing the 6.3 million, ahead of India, Brazil and Russia in that order.

In our area, the Aug. 29 totals put Washington state and Snohomish County at 77,545 and 6,378 respectively, up from 74,320 (gain of 3,225) and 6,178 (gain of 200) 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 continues to show the United States leading the world in overall numbers of cases, ahead of Brazil and India, the only other countries surpassing 1 million.


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 remains in 10th place this week when the playing field is leveled to reflect per capita cases (cases per one million population – ninth column from left), again surpassing 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 continue to account for the majority of cases worldwide picking up just less than a million new cases last week. Note that the bar chart for the Americas continues to inch downward for the fifth week in a row, reflecting an encouraging leveling trend in this hemisphere.

In worldwide COVID deaths per 100,000 population the U.S. has dropped from fourth to seventh place this week, despite increasing to 57.83 COVID deaths per 100K  compared to 55.95 last week. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University).


The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Sept. 6) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases at 77,545 with 1,953 deaths, up from 74,320 and 1,905 respectively last week.  In addition, more than a million new tests were administered and tabulated since the last (Aug. 29) report.


The following chart from Johns Hopkins University shows the Washington state daily new caseload continuing to decline, with the daily count as of Sep. 5 dropping to 501 from 578 last week and from the July 18 high of 959. We are now in the seventh consecutive week of declining new cases statewide, a trend officials attribute to more widespread acceptance and practice of masking and social distancing guidelines.  Note that these trends reflect the state as a whole, and that 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 decreased case rate of 88.3 (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average), with the Sept. 6 number showing a drop more than 17 from the previous week’s report of 105.6, a major step toward achieving the Department of Health goal of 25.


COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths in Washington State both continue their encouraging downward trends, reflecting the drop in overall cases (note that the hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Sept. 6 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Sept. 5).

The charts below represent the second 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. 6 positivity rate has now dropped to 3.3 percent, down from 4.0 last week and 7.1 two weeks ago, putting us in striking distance of the 2.0 percent DOH goal.


While overall statewide numbers are falling, there remains significant variation 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 to be furthest along, qualifying for Phase 3 reopening.


While the underlying numbers have shifted slightly, demographic patterns as of Sept. 6 remain unchanged, with most infections reported among younger people, and most hospitalizations and deaths in older age groups. Note that more than half the COVID-related deaths occur among those age 80 years and older.


The Snohomish County situation:

The county numbers overview as of Sept. 6 shows total confirmed cases at 6,378, and deaths at 207 (last week’s figures were 6,178 and 209 respectively, the decline in deaths due to subsequent data verification).


The county daily new case count shows an encouraging decline over the past seven weeks, reflecting and surpassing the statewide trends, with projected counts (pending verification – grey bars) poised to return to the all-time low levels of June.


Viewed over time, the critical county measures (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) show a continuation of the encouraging trend begun in early August of decreasing active cases – stated another way, in Snohomish County we are getting well faster than we are getting sick (note that these numbers are through August 29).

Cumulative case counts for the county are also through August 29 and come from the most recent weekly report from the Snohomish Health District.  These do not include more recent and as yet unverified data.

Reflecting this trend, the case rate (cases per 100K population, 2-week rolling average) stands at 52.9, down from 60.0 the previous week, continuing the decline begun seven 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, with death rates heavily skewed to older demographics, reflecting the statewide trends noted above (see tables below).

As noted above with Washington state, reporting of county testing activity resumed last week under the updated data processing protocols. The testing activity chart and table below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Sept. 6 and Aug. 29 respectively.

The local situation in our home cities as of August 29:

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 Aug. 29.

Critical metrics (total cases, recovered cases, deaths, and active cases) for our home cities are shown in the charts below.  For all these jurisdictions, the good news is that active case numbers have been steadily 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 8/29.  Note the significant decrease in active case numbers, continuing the trend begun in early August for all our home cities and the county as a whole.:

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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