The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Better, but Will We Keep Up the Effort?

Finally, some modest good news on the COVID-19 front. It’s still really bad though. 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 %
1 0.149% 4.1% 0.410% 4.0%
2 0.097% 2.3% 0.283% 1.8%
3 0.113% 2.9% 0.274% 3.2%
4 0.257% 6.8% 0.612% 6.5%
5 0.208% 5.4% 0.532% 5.3%
6 0.231% 2.3% 0.522% 2.9%
7 0.278% 7.9% 0.588% 7.3%
8 0.266% 5.5% 0.611% 5.9%
D.C. total 0.202% 3.7% 0.489% 3.8%

The ‘good place’, which is one new case per 100,000 people per day, would be 0.007% in column two and 0.014% in column four, and we’re not anywhere close to that.

The good news is, compared to two weeks ago, D.C. has about 30% fewer cases, though given the, erm, events of the last couple of weeks, that estimate should be taken with many grains of salt. This would work out to an R(t) of about 0.9, which means every five to six days, the number of daily new positives should be 90% of what it was. Deaths are still high, and given the number of new cases are likely to stay in the 2 – 3 deaths per day range for this week.

In addition, every ward appears to have lower prevalences, though the high percent positive rates in Wards 5, 7, and 8 make it difficult to really trust those results (other than they are significantly lower than reality). Wards 1, 2, and 5 had large declines, while other wards declined, but not that much.

The question is what will D.C. do now? We’ve already loosened dining restrictions, even though citywide, we’re still twice as high as the upper phase 1 boundary of fifteen daily new cases per 100,000. At the same time, we are increasing the number of kids in schools starting February 1 (if we’re going to do the latter, then hold off on the former–D.C. leadership has learned nothing). Vaccination will likely help the death rates over the next month (the next couple of weeks are already locked in), but, unless there’s a massive increase, it won’t do little to lower transmission over the next month, possibly longer–and, even if COVID-19 doesn’t kill you, many people suffer long-term effects. That said, it’s not clear what other actions, if any, the city will take to lower COVID-19 prevalence, other than hoping for inclement weather and good luck.

The usual reminder I keep having to end these posts with unfortunately still applies: the good news, such as it is, is that we still could be only around six weeks away from returning to near normal-ish (and eight weeks to normal-ish), even though we intentionally remain six or eight 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.: Better, but Will We Keep Up the Effort?

  1. RC says:

    The new President of the United States has a different take on the possibility of return to normal.

    I wish he shared your view.

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