Daily Status, August 23
Daily Status, August 23:
First of all, and this is important, eastern VA/Hampton Roads has decreased it case count such that is is now in line with the rest of the state.
The statewide numbers are decreasing decreasing slowly, and the five identified regions of the state are doing about equally well. This differs from from earlier in the pandemic, when first Northern VA surged and then recovered, followed by Hampton Roads/Eastern VA surging and recovering. While Eastern, Central and SW VA are improving, NW and Northern VA are seeing growth in the case count. Overall, the regions are doing ok. We need to be cautious throughout the state. Yesterday, the sky was not falling and today, we are not doing great. But, as locations go, much of Virginia is improving, no overall region is particularly concerning. The current 7 day average is between 60 and 80 per 100,000, or about 10 per day per 100,000, which puts us around average for all states.
The three week growth rates are (in fraction per day)
Central VA: 0.993
Hampton Roads/Eastern VA: 0.955
SW VA: 0.987
NW VA: 1.013
The state as a whole down 0.5%, being driven by Hampton Roads (down 3.7% per day).
The following charts are for the 5 regions/trends. To me, what is most fascinating is each part, even though we are mostly part of the same guidelines. Note that the total number of new cases in East/Hampton Roads is now about the same as Northern VA (though NoVA has a significantly more people).
In terms of the local communities around the colleges, I think we can feel confident sending our kids to college (assuming they are not stupid). So far, the numbers for incoming students at Tech have been low – which is good. I talked about that in my introduction. I was able to look specifically at Tech because they are reporting the numbers locally for the school (to the Va Tech zip code). I am not sure if other schools are. I know W & M sent test kits to the students, who sent them back, so those will be reported as the home zip code I think. In terms of the surrounding communities, ODU is now in line with UMW and VCU. ODU is trending in the right direction whereas VCU and UMW are flat over two weeks. W & M/ CNU are doing the best. W & M is welcomed freshmen last week, as are some of the other schools. The regional trends, which is good for W & M, CNU and ODU, but concerning for VT and GMU. Also, JMU suddenly popped on the radar screen with positive grown, and is currently the highest growth rate in the state, but the Harrisonburg region is growing at less than 2%.
As colleges start to reopen, there will be an interesting data experiment: with large cohorts smaller communities, the impact of the colleges on the numbers should be apparent. My plan for this is to track the colleges by zipcodes, particularly those where I can isolate the students or the students make up a majority of the population. For example Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. Right now, I am showing 6 colleges.
Because I am tracking ZIPCodes, I will pick up events unrelated to the campus. For example, yesterday (8/22), there was a 4 standard deviation event near Williamsburg, but it was unrelated to William and Mary; the surge was probably caused by a documented outbreak at the Peninsula, VA jail, which (while outside of the city) shares a ZIPCode with Williamsburg.
There is a statically unlikely event occurring in Blacksburg, but that is the testing of all on-campus students and attributing it to 24060 is resulting in a low positive rate, but higher number of cases (about 15 cases out of 5500 tests).
First of all, there is an article suggesting that, while children are less likely to show severe symptoms of COVID-19, they have, on average higher viral loads, which suggests (but is not proven) that then may shed more viruses, and be likely to get the people around them sick. This includes teachers, parents, and grandparents. It also points out the true tragedy of the situation: we all know the children need the socialization, but the socialization can become a vector in spreading the disease to more vulnerable populations. Pediatric SARS-CoV-2: Clinical Presentation, Infectivity, and Immune Responses
I want to get back to Vienna, locally. Most of my readers are from Vienna. I believe most of us are following protocols. In, we are nearly 100% masked, and none of the nose exposed masks. This is good. Outside, while it is overall not crowded, people are generally not wearing masks. The guidelines say 6-10 feet. However, the virus follows physics not guidelines. Two feet behind a person is safer (for me) than 10 feet in front. Two people can probably stand safely back to back, at 1 foot, but not face to face at 6 feet. The virus is carried with the breath. The harder the breathing, the farther the breath will go (higher the velocity out of the mouth). So, yelling at a sporting event is significantly riskier than sitting on a bench sipping coffee. The mask mitigates the risk by capturing the larger particles, which is much more likely to contain the virus.
Unfortunately, the state has not empowered the town to enforce the mask ordinance. In commercial sites, the site manager can trespass a person and the police will enforce that. However, particularly with the current social justice issues, I do not think the police enforcing mask wearing is optimal (Thank you Del. Keam for that perspective). If you see a problem with a place that sells alcohol, The ABC office can enforce it. Otherwise, the health department is in charge of mask enforcement, and that is a county organization, and they do not seem to follow up with calls. Moreover, the problems observed at Waters field is not enforceable by the town, as the county owns the land and issues the permits. I spoke with the person in charge of permitting and fields for the county, and there is no desire to enforce the governors mask ordinance; he was sympathetic to my concern and will send out reminders, but there is no desire to go beyond that. If we want to change things, we need to look to the political leaders and not the county employees. With that said, the town can only enforce the rules at, for example, Southside or Glyndon park. But the offences that I have observed are at Waters field. The funny thing is the leagues had to come up with a safe reopening plan (at least VGSL did), but that is not being followed.
The best we can to is to focus on ourselves. Wear the mask and be safe. This disease does not really discriminate. There is no shame in getting sick, but we all have an obligation to our community to stay healthy. Dr. Fauci says we may have a Vaccine by the end of the year, but it will probably not be until the second half of the year where the majority can be inoculated. Until that time, we are living with COVID. There are numerous studies that show there are potentially long-term effects for COVID (I say potentially because we are 8 months in to COVID-19 globally, and that is not long-term). Including neurological, cardiac, and respiratory issues. And that is with a mild case. Based on numbers from NYC, 1/34-1/40 people with antibodies end up hospitalized – which is presumably a life-threatening case. Some people say, but it only kills 0.5%, which does appear to be true. But 2.5-3.3% have life threatening cases. These are the numbers. If you do not believe me, look them up yourself: Total hospitalizations compared with total probable exposure based on Antibodies.
THERE IS INCREASING EVIDENCE THAT MASKS ACTUALLY DO PROTECT THE WEARER.
While the mask your mask may not prevent your exposure, it will limit the viral load, which gives your immune system a better chance, and statistically may lead to less severe cases.
This has been a difficult 5 months so far, and we probably have at least another 5 months to go before a vaccine is available. But anyone reading this is still alive. 170000 Americans are not. Some say wearing a mask is a sign of weakness – of being a sheep. I would rather be free to roam while wearing a mask than cooped up inside.
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Why I did this: About the blog
State Actions: Impact on Growth: TBD
Figure Descriptions: TBD
Other Sites: John's Hopkins