The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Not Plateauing, but Increasing

While the rest of the country is plateauing, in D.C., COVID-19 seems to be rising. The entire city and all wards, including the ‘low prevalence bastions’ of Ward 2 and 3, are still well above the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week–which also is the threshold the CDC suggests schools for all grades can reopen (0.05% in the second column below):


Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos. two-week prevalence two-week % pos.
1 0.110% 2.3% 0.189% 2.0%
2 0.184% 1.9% 0.298% 2.1%
3 0.046% 1.0% 0.075% 0.9%
4 0.113% 2.7% 0.207% 2.6%
5 0.140% 2.6% 0.273% 2.8%
6 0.142% 2.7% 0.261% 2.6%
7 0.204% 4.3% 0.363% 4.1%
8 0.207% 3.8% 0.408% 4.0%
D.C. total 0.152% 0.7% 0.267% 2.6%

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, as usual, we’re still nowhere near that.

Every ward except Wards 5 and 8 had large increases. Ward 2 had a massive increase, though some of that, maybe much of it, could be due to reporting lags from the universities–which, of course, means Ward 2 was doing worse than it appeared the last couple of weeks. Ward 2 now has to be considered a high prevalence ward. The good news is that the percent positive rates, outside of Wards 7 and 8 is very good, so these likely are reasonable estimates.

Deaths are dropping, though still too high. R(t) was greater than one this week (new cases are rising), but we’ll have to see what next week brings.

Now the question is vaccination. Figuring out what is happening in D.C is particularly challenging since the CDC data include allocations for federal agencies, and the D.C. colonial government has no control over those doses (many doses exist ‘in D.C.’ only as an accounting measure). Based on the D.C. colonial data, we seem to be very good at distributing the vaccines we do receive.

The problem is that we’re simply not receiving enough vaccine. As of Sunday, the CDC reports that around 20% of adult D.C. residents have been partially or fully vaccinated. This is lower than any other U.S. state, except Georgia (the median is around 27%). Again, this is not due to incompetency by the D.C. government–the vaccines are being administered, and at a higher rate than many states (out of character, but true!).

If we compare the CDC numbers to the D.C. numbers, it seems like about three percent of D.C. residents have been vaccinated by the federal government, and about seventeen percent by the D.C. government (note all of these figures are imprecise). Were it not for the federal vaccinations, D.C. would be in really bad shape. A one time extra delivery of around 60,000 doses would bring D.C. into par with other mainland entities. With cases rising, D.C. really needs this.

The reason I keep making unsubtle digs about D.C.’s status is that we are getting screwed, and, unlike other states, which have senators who can raise a fuss, we are powerless to do anything about it. Yes, statehood matters for all sorts of reasons, but right now, there’s no one to advocate for more vaccines for a colony which desperately wants them, and has demonstrated the ability to deploy them.

As usual, I’ll remind you that the good news is we still could be only around six weeks away from returning to normal-ish, even though we intentionally remain 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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