Daily Status, August 26
Green means I am monitoring it but nothing to say about it
Yellow means I am looking into it -- there may be something, but I am not sure -- I will write about it.
Daily Status, August 26:
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 slowly, and the five identified regions of the state are doing about equally well. The improvement in the Hampton Roads region is most noteworthy. In a week or two, if the trends continue, it will have the lowest number of active cases per capita. While Eastern, Central and SW VA are improving -- if we take away Radford, SW VA would be doing really well. NW and Northern VA are about flat -- possibly slow growth, but less than 1% per day. 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: 0.990
Hampton Roads/Eastern VA: 0.969
SW VA: 0.988 -- 0.976 without Radford
NW VA: 0.985
The state as a whole down 1.0% per day, being driven by Hampton Roads (down 3.1% 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).
One interesting aspect of the virus currently is the trend lines have been constant for 6 weeks: nothing has changed in any region requiring a new trend line (the last change was when Hampton Roads/Eastern VA started behaving better).
In terms of the local communities around the colleges, I think we can feel confident sending our kids to college -- except for Radford.. So far, the numbers for incoming students at Tech have been low – which is good. Looking at the community number, the apparent growth around Tech is 100% the result of the student return, and the fact that Tech is testing on campus. This means that the reported cases are showing up on campus rather than elsewhere. With 11,000 tests, they have identified about 30 infected. The concern here, though, is the infected students could cause the virus to spread to the regional community, which is not taking proper precautions. 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.
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 7 colleges.
Because I am tracking ZIPCodes, I will pick up events unrelated to the campus. For example on 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.
With that said, it is clear Radford is in bad shape. They are showing uncontrolled community spread. Fortunately, this will not continue for long, as within a week, they will achieve herd immunity the hardway. Radford is running 50%+ of the tests positive, they have 157 cases since the school reopened. Except, based on the percent positives, they are severely under testing. The optimal testing to catch all cases will have less than 5% positive; this suggests that the actual case number could be significantly higher. Reading press reports, it is clear the university is taking a laize faire approach. https://www.wdbj7.com/2020/08/26/radford-sees-a-spike-in-cases-radford-university-amends-gathering-size-to-10-people/. Unfortunately, bringing offspring home from Radford will probably mean the family will be sick. At this point, it is safe to assume that nearly every student at Radford has been exposed since school began. When I was at Va Tech, we would talk about the "Radford Run". I would advise any Hokie to avoid that now.
Today I am angry. It seems that some schools just do not care if the students get sick. Radford is exploding. Colleges across the country are closing. The only schools that are doing okay had pre-screening and testing plans. In VA, most colleges went with prescreening. JMU and Radford did not. Radford frankly should be quarantined at this time. JMU may still be ok. I do not have a child at James Madison University. But the idea of placing 22,000 kids in an incubator with no prescreening testing is irresponsible at best. Since the majority of teens are asymptomatic (or minimally symptomatic), the majority of infected teens will not know they are sick. For them, it is not an issue. Unfortunately, not all cases in teens are minor, and the teens will infect the broader community.
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