And, I’m sorry, “But at least we’re not Florida” isn’t going to cut it.
As of Sunday evening, the two-week prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in D.C. was still above 0.1%, and is worse than it was last week (0.129% versus 0.104% citywide), and is far worse than it was two weeks ago (0.084%). Here’s the prevalence by ward and for the whole city:
Ward 1: 0.121%
Ward 2: 0.093%
Ward 3: 0.045%
Ward 4: 0.138%
Ward 5: 0.167%
Ward 6: 0.106%
Ward 7: 0.183%
Ward 8: 0.159%
Other than Ward 3, which showed a decline, and Ward 2 and Ward 6, which had very minor changes, the other wards and the city as a whole are increasing rapidly.
If we use the German standard of 50 new cases per 100,000 people in one week, which is a one week prevalence of 0.05% (provided adequate testing–which D.C. does have), the city as a whole, as well as Wards 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 would be subject to increased restrictions.
Instead, D.C.’s leadership, such as it is, has decided to hope mask wearing, in a city where mask wearing is already pretty high, will stop this. As some asshole with a blog noted recently, it’s unclear how much more protection we’ll get from increases in mask wearing (in states where compliance sucks, it might make a serious dent).
At the same time, D.C. does not have functional testing and tracing–according to the city’s own data, the overwhelming percentage of new cases aren’t from quarantined contacts. It’s unlikely that superspreading isn’t the dominant mode of transmission anymore. Instead, what is likely happening is that our contract tracing and testing is insufficient to the task at hand. We’re not drilling deeply enough into enough cases, and because of testing delays, we’re unable to find the links in time.
(lengthy aside: The testing delays really aren’t the city’s fault, but the Trump Administration’s fault, as they haven’t used the Defense Production Act to solve the testing problem. In an accountable society, Trump and his entire cabinet and advisors would commit ritual self-disembowelment out of shame for a failure of this magnitude. But I digress).
Back to D.C. Maybe mask wearing will work, but I think, at best, it will lead to no increase in daily new cases, or very small reductions (e.g., Rt around 0.95, when it’s currently, based on the new cases data, around 1.2). Since we don’t know how spread is occurring and the prevalence is rising, we should roll back to phase 1. It’s not as if we can do targeted rollbacks due to the testing failures, we don’t understand what is happening.
And the longer we wait, the more time we will have to spend in roll back when the city’s purported leadership comes to its senses.
While this is largely under the purview of the mayor, the Council has been utterly gormless, when not entirely absent on this issue. This D.C. voter who has never missed an election anywhere he has lived is really angry at our elected officials–and, as we occasionally note around here, anger is the appropriate emotion.