The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Our Response Is a Kinder, Gentler Trumpism

Needless to say, that means the state of the state is not good. It was another disastrous week for COVID-19 in D.C. The entire city and all wards, including the ‘low prevalence bastions’ of Ward 2 and 3, are now well 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 0.143% 2.3% 0.249% 2.3%
2 0.131% 1.5% 0.254% 1.6%
3 0.074% 1.6% 0.158% 1.8%
4 0.179% 4.1% 0.351% 4.4%
5 0.197% 3.9% 0.343% 3.8%
6 0.205% 2.7% 0.404% 3.1%
7 0.188% 6.4% 0.317% 5.4%
8 0.169% 5.2% 0.309% 4.9%
D.C. total 0.164% 2.8% 0.300% 2.8%

For context, in column two, the ‘good place’, which is one new case per 100,000 people per day, is 0.007%. We’re nowhere near that now. The ‘best’ ward, Ward 3, is ten times higher than that. Worse, in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8, the percent positive rate is too high, meaning the counts in those wards are likely significant underestimates. In every ward, except for Ward 3, the prevalence has increased. And of course, we’ve blown by the phase 1 rollback metric of 15 news cases per 100,000 people per day in every ward, except in Ward 3.

I actually think we might see a leveling off next week or even a modest decrease, since we had a cold snap that keep a lot of people home, potentially lowering transmission. But Thanksgiving likely will lead to a spike in cases. Unfortunately, the deaths coming down the pike are baked in–if we’re lucky, and we might be since many of the cases seem to be occurring in the under fifty set, we’ll likely have ten deaths this week.

This is where D.C. is right now: our COVID-19 response plan appears to be exhorting people to wear masks even more than they are (though they’re not contacting people directly) and hoping for inclement weather. That is, there’s no plan.

It’s obvious what needs to happen: we need to tighten restrictions. The city won’t do that, however, because it needs revenue, so people will get sick and die for money. I’m not surprised Bowser has adopted this line because I expect Bowser to do her usual when faced with a crisis: hunker down and hope it resolves itself or is forgotten.

Unfortunately, you can’t bullshit the virus.

But the D.C. Council also is failing–if nothing else, members have a political opportunity here–and there’s nothing wrong when opportunism is aligned with good policy. My hunch about the D.C. Council’s actions is that it is one part hunkering down and one part stone cold ignorance of biology and math. They know lots of things, such as the ins and outs of housing policy. But here isn’t anyone on the Council or their staffs (or enough people on staff to break through) to know what to ask and how to ask it.

So we are left with a kinder, gentler Trumpism.

I’ll end with my usual, and remind everyone that, even with these horrible data, 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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1 Response to The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Our Response Is a Kinder, Gentler Trumpism

  1. Pingback: The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: An Ongoing Failure of Governance | Mike the Mad Biologist

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