The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: On the Edge

With the fate of a prominent local politician having been decided, we now return to our regular cataloging of the apocalypse. Before we get to the data, a sincere plea: if you spent a considerable time in crowds this weekend or celebrating, please try to limit your contact around others, wear a mask over your mouth and nose, and consider getting tested later this week–that goes for anywhere, not just D.C. (here’s where you can get tested in D.C.)

D.C. saw a marginal increase overall, but all wards, including the ‘low prevalence bastions’ of Ward 2 and 3, are now above the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week (0.05% in the second column below):


Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos. two-week prevalence two-week % pos.
1 0.096% 2.5% 0.214% 2.7%
2 0.102% 1.6% 0.162% 1.4%
3 0.055% 1.4% 0.088% 1.2%
4 0.118% 3.9% 0.213% 3.4%
5 0.083% 2.4% 0.160% 2.4%
6 0.086% 2.0% 0.179% 2.0%
7 0.080% 2.7% 0.158% 3.0%
8 0.078% 2.5% 0.184% 3.2%
D.C. total 0.088% 2.1% 0.172% 2.1%

Those wards that are typically high saw modest decreases, while Ward 2 was blown out: eighty percent of Ward 2 cases are in Georgetown, Georgetown East, and GWU. Ward 4 also increased and remains very high as well, and given its percent positive rate, is probably missing some cases.

That said, we are faced with the ongoing problem of not understanding how spread actually happens. We can guess about routes of transmission, but until D.C.’s backwards contact tracing gets better, it’s clear we aren’t identifying superspreading events, which means we really don’t have a handle on how to stop the spread.

The only good news is that, after two weeks of increases, we seem to have plateaued, but it’s not clear what caused the plateau, or if we can lower daily new cases. If nothing else D.C. needs to make a big push on mask wearing, especially in common areas of buildings. The city is spending too much time in its updates not reinforcing the basics of mask wearing. It also should contact building owners and remind them that the city requires masks in all common areas–and landlords should have to post the letter and contact residents about the letter.

I’m under no illusions that Biden will stop COVID-19 dead its tracks, but the de facto herd immunity strategy is literally killing us.

Despite all of this, we still could be only four to six weeks away from returning to normal-ish, but we intentionally remain four to six weeks away from safely returning to normal-ish because we’re unwilling to do what it takes to make that happen.

Anger isn’t the appropriate emotion, rage is.

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