The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Better, but Bowser’s New Guidelines Might Not Help

Before we get to Mayor Bowser’s late and atypically unannounced rule change, the entire city and Wards 4–8, are still 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 0.032% 1.0% 0.106% 1.8%
2 0.027% 0.4% 0.050% 0.4%
3 0.045% 0.2% 0.082% 0.4%
4 0.062% 1.8% 0.136% 1.9%
5 0.097% 1.6% 0.189% 1.8%
6 0.053% 1.5% 0.141% 1.9%
7 0.131% 3.5% 0.317% 4.1%
8 0.154% 3.0% 0.322% 3.1%
D.C. total 0.074% 1.2% 0.166% 1.6%

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 we’re still no near that in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8. The percent positive rates are good in Wards 1-6, and borderline in Wards 7 and 8. Wards 1, 4, 6, and 7 saw large decreases, and Ward 8 had a slight decrease. Ward 6 saw an increase. Wards 2 and 3 also saw increases. However, Ward 2 increased from 21 to 25 new cases while having fifty percent more tests, and Ward 3 had a large backlog of testing results (~12,000), equal to about three additional weeks worth of tests, so the only concern is the increase in Ward 6. R(t), using recent data (D.C. calculates R(t) using cleaned up data that is about 10 days–two viral reproduction cycles–out of date), has been below 0.9 most of the week.

In terms of vaccination, as of two weeks ago (remember, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine’s protection to kick in), 23.5% of D.C. residents were fully vaccinated, and 49.7% of D.C. residents had received at least one dose. We’re nowhere near done yet, but hopefully in a month or so, we’ll be in a good place regarding vaccination, though it would help greatly if CDC could released zipcode level data, so we have a better idea of how each of the wards are doing (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were twenty percent point gaps between some wards, unfortunately).

The vaccination numbers make Mayor Bowser’s Friday night surprise announcement–one that the city uncharacteristically did not promote–about masking puzzling. Initially, the city was going to be far more lax about indoors mask wearing for fully vaccinated people (basically, they wouldn’t have to wear masks), and leave it up to restaurants and business to enforce any possible rule breakers.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ultimately, the city backed down, but the outdoor guidance is still vague (“Unvaccinated persons leaving their residences shall wear a mask when they are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person”), as it’s unclear if this includes, for instance, narrow, high-traffic sidewalks (in fairness, the CDC is unclear about this too).

Anyway, things are improving, but we need more vaccine uptake. As some asshole with a blog put it:

Given these distribution problems (and I think the Biden administration could have offered more guidance here to states), D.C. shouldn’t relax restrictions further for the next couple of week since vaccination rates just aren’t where they need to be.

That said, if Wards 2 and 3 are any indication, there is a light at the end of this tunnel, hopefully by the beginning of June, even if too many people had to die to get there.

Anger is still the appropriate emotion.

Still angry.

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1 Response to The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Better, but Bowser’s New Guidelines Might Not Help

  1. Pingback: Fast-Forward COVID-19 Punditry | Mike the Mad Biologist

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