While the April 10 data updates from the Snohomish Health District continue to show a steady increase in the total number of cases (blue line), it is important to keep in mind that this a cumulative count over the reporting period reflecting the number of people who have contracted the disease since reporting began. This line will never go down, but will flatten out when no new cases are reported.
By contrast, the number of active cases (yellow line) subtracts out the numbers of those who have recovered from the disease and those who have died, and so reflects the number who are actually sick with COVID-19 today — and despite daily fluctuations this number has remained fairly constant for the past week.
This is accompanied by yet another daily increase in the number of recovered cases (green line), with the last two days showing a combined increase of 200 people joining the ranks of those who have recovered from the virus.
The flattening numbers of new cases combined with the climbing numbers of recovered cases continue to suggest that Snohomish County is making slow, steady progress in battling COVID-19.
But the experts continue to strongly caution that this should not be taken as an excuse to back off rigorous social distancing, sanitation and wearing of PPE. This was underscored in a Friday briefing for reporters where County Executive Dave Somers was joined by Providence Medical Center’s Dr. Matt Beecroft and County Chief Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters. All stressed the need to continue “holding the line” against a virus that is far from beaten and could surge back if we let our guard down.
— By Larry Vogel
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From the Washington State Department of Health
Getting better from COVID-19
Every day, we report on our website the number of people in Washington who have tested positive for COVID-19 and the number of people who died from it. What we don’t report every day is that there are many people who have had COVID-19 and are getting better. In fact, most people who get COVID-19 get sick, but don’t have to go to the hospital, and they recover nicely at home.
How many people have recovered from coronavirus?
Many! It’s hard to know exactly how many, because, at the state and national level, we have public health systems in place that help us count how many people were hospitalized with a disease or how many people died of a particular disease, but we don’t really have a system that reliably tells us how many people in the state or nation are feeling much better now. And, of course, we will never know the number of people who had COVID-19 and recovered, but were never tested.
That said, some places are finding ways to estimate the number of people recovered.
China counts the number of people recovered, and right now they are reporting that of all the people who were tested, there were 82,883 people in China with COVID-19, of whom 3,339 died, 1,865 are still sick, and 77,679 have recovered.
Johns Hopkins University produces a world map that shows these numbers from China, and uses information available from each country to estimate a number of people recovered for countries other than China. Today, they are reporting that in the United States there have been 500,399 cases, 18,693 deaths, and 28,837 people have recovered.
Johns Hopkins doesn’t estimate the number recovered by state because there is such variety in the way states collect information on COVID-19. Michigan, however, just started reporting a number recovered. They define “recovered” as the number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 for 30 days or longer, and are still alive. As of April 3, of the more than 20,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Michigan, 56 had “recovered.” They expect that number to grow as time goes by.
At a local level, depending on the size of a county’s work force and the number of people diagnosed, a county health department may be in touch with all the people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and know how many are recovered. For example, today, Thurston County reported that of the 77 people in the county diagnosed with COVID-19, 52 have recovered.\
What does “recovered” look like?
One way to define “recovered” is to consider when people with COVID-19 are allowed to stop isolating themselves at home. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that if you have had COVID-19 and have been isolating yourself at home, you can stop isolating yourself after you have gone 72 hours without a fever, your other symptoms have improved, and it has been at least seven days since you first felt sick. This advice is based on what we know about how contagious COVID-19 is, but there is a lot we still don’t know. This guidance might change as we learn more. As people recover, they may still feel tired and have a lingering cough even after the third day without fever.