The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Good, but Not Everywhere

Things are improving in most wards. The entire city and Wards 1-6, are below 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% 2.1% 0.063% 1.4%
2 0.024% 0.9% 0.049% 0.5%
3 0.014% 0.5% 0.060% 0.3%
4 0.025% 1.3% 0.092% 1.7%
5 0.038% 1.6% 0.138% 1.6%
6 0.026% 1.5% 0.076% 1.4%
7 0.111% 4.9% 0.235% 3.8%
8 0.076% 3.9% 0.230% 3.3%
D.C. total 0.041% 1.7% 0.114% 1.3%

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 several wards are getting close. That said, Ward 7 isn’t a good place at all, and Ward 8 isn’t doing much better. Hopefully, vaccination will increase in those wards, driving down the infection rate. That said, most wards saw dramatic declines, or were very low the previous week. Other than Wards 7 and 8, the percent positive rates are good, though it’s worth noting that there is a serious data discrepancy in between the sum of the ward level total numbers of tests and the ‘top line’ result D.C. reports, so the estimates of percent positive rates should be viewed as very provisional.

On the topic of percent positive rates, as cases continue to decline, we might see rates go up as people cease to be tested as often–we’ll have to see how that plays out in the coming weeks (though it’s a good problem to have). R(t) was well below 1.0 this week, as would be expected with these dramatic declines. We also had only had four deaths this week.

The real problem is that Wards 7 and 8 are lagging behind. According to D.C.’s vaccination data, Ward 8 is about 40% behind the city average, and Ward 7 is about 30% behind. This is reflected in the number of daily new positives, which, as noted above, are still too high. And D.C.’s vaccination data only capture about 75% of the vaccinations the CDC reports (these are from out-of-state or from federal sources that D.C. doesn’t control). My hunch is that this ‘missing 25%’ is not finding its way to Wards 7 and 8. Some wards might be in really good shape in a few weeks, but east-of-the-river is not doing well, and D.C. needs to figure out how to get people vaccinated.

All that said, in a month or so, I think we’ll be in a very good place. I can’t forgive the city’s leadership for refusing to stop the surge in early November (or even in October), which likely led to hundreds of needless deaths. But at least we’re getting towards the end of this nightmare, though I’ll still be angry about the greatest domestic policy failure in my lifetime. Not willing to forgive that.

*Due to data issues, this roundup is from Monday to Monday, not Sunday to Sunday as usual.

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