COVID-19 Weekly Report for Sept. 28, 2020: U.S. surpasses 7 million cases and 200,000 deaths

Each week we scour the internet to collect the latest information on the COVID battle from global to local levels.  Our aim is to provide you – our readers – with a one-stop-shop to gain a comprehensive overview of progress in fighting the pandemic at all levels.

The global spread of COVID-19 continued apace this week, matching last week’s addition of 2.1 million new cases, (see our earlier reports for Sept. 21 and  Sept. 14 for comparison). Deaths worldwide were up slightly, with 37,221 added compared to 36,572 last week. The United States continues to lead the world in sheer numbers of cases and deaths — ahead of India, Brazil and Russia in that order. Note that this week the U.S. passed two grim milestones: Total cases now surpass 7.1 million, and deaths have topped 200,000.

In our area, the Sept. 26 reports show an uptick of new cases in both Washington state and Snohomish County. Total cases this week for the state and county stand at 86,269 and 6,905 respectively, up from 82,548 (gain of 3,721, up 1,000 from the previous week’s gain of 2,722) and 6,697 (gain of 208, up from the previous week’s gain of 170) a week ago (see overview maps below in the state and county sections).

The world and national situation:

The global overview map and chart from Johns Hopkins again shows the U.S. leading the world in overall numbers of cases, ahead of Brazil, India and Russia, the only other countries surpassing 1 million cases.

The most recent tabular display of the top 10 nations worldwide from the World Health Organization shows similar numbers, the discrepancies due to the updates being taken in different time zones (WHO is based in Europe, and due to time differences the numbers are approximately 10 hours earlier than Johns Hopkins, a testament to how quickly new cases are diagnosed and added to the count).

While the U.S. leads the world in overall case numbers, it dropped from 10th to 12th place this week in per-capita cases (ranked here by cases per one million population, ninth column from left). See the complete interactive table where you can rank countries by any of the various metrics here.

Taken by region, the Americas continue to lead the world in the daily new case counts. As the chart below illustrates, this metric has shown a slight uptick in September after declining through August, suggesting increased viral activity in this hemisphere. Asia remains the region suffering the greatest daily case count increase.

In COVID deaths per 100,000 population, the U.S. remains in sixth place this week, increasing to 62.58 COVID deaths per 100K compared to 60.98 last week. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University).

The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Sept. 26) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases at 86,269 with 2,100 deaths, up from 82,548 and 2,037 respectively last week. In addition, 100,000 new tests were administered and tabulated, an increase of 9,000 since our last (Sept. 19) report.

And now for the discouraging news — after three months of steady decline in new cases, Washington state is showing a marked uptick for the last half of September, as illustrated below in the latest daily caseload chart from Johns Hopkins.  On the positive side, we are still below the July 18 high of 959, but it begins the fall season on a disturbing note (see the interactive chart for Washington state on the Johns Hopkins website here).

This increase in new cases is not reflected in a Sept. 24 case rate of 70.6 (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average), a drop of 4 from the previous week’s report of 74.6. This apparent contradiction is due to this metric being based on the average over two weeks and therefore including numbers recorded during the early September lows.

Trends in daily hospitalization and death counts typically lag behind those for total caseload numbers, as newly infected individuals advance through the course of the disease. This week’s trends continue with little change from previous weeks (note that the hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Sept. 26 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Sept. 25).

The charts below represent the fifth week of test results reporting under the new DOH protocols. These figures now reflect total testing volumes rather than just the number of new individuals receiving a negative or positive test result for the first time (i.e., if an individual is tested more than once, each test is counted).

The Sept. 24 positivity rate is down slightly to 3.1 percent from 3.4 the week before, remaining short of the 2.0 percent DOH goal.

While the underlying numbers have shifted slightly, there has been no change since last week among Washington counties regarding current reopening phases, with Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties still in modified Phase 1. In our area, Island County continues as the lone county in the northwest quadrant of the state to qualify for Phase 3 reopening.

State demographic patterns continue unchanged, with the Sept. 26 report following the familiar pattern of most infections among younger people, and most hospitalizations and deaths in older populations. Note that more than half the COVID-related deaths occur among those age 80 and older.


The Snohomish County situation:

The county numbers overview as of Sept. 26 shows total confirmed cases at 6,905, and deaths at 212. Total tests now stand at 138,070, up more than 8,000 from last week’s report.

The Sept. 26 county daily new case count reflects the recent uptick statewide, but as with the state numbers, it is too soon to tell whether this is an aberration or the beginning of a trend.

Trends in critical county measures over time (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) are shown below (these numbers are through Sept. 19). Note that after last week’s spike, active cases are again decreasing.

Cumulative case counts for the county continue to level out, another indicator that the spread of the virus is slowing in our area. These numbers are also through Sept. 19, come from the most recent weekly report from the Snohomish Health District, and do not include more recent and as yet unverified data.

Reflecting this trend, as of Sept. 19 the case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) stands at 41.7, down a full percentage point from the previous week, and while decreasing at a slower rate than previously, it continues to close in on the DOH goal of 25.

Hospitalizations and deaths at the county level continue to show little change from last week, reflecting the statewide trends noted in the demographic bar charts above (see tables below).

Testing activity at the county level continues at a relatively high level. The testing activity chart and table below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Sept. 26 and Sept. 19 respectively. Note that the positivity rate in the county has now declined to 2.5, an encouraging trend moving us closer to the state goal of 2.0.


The local situation in our home cities:

 Note: These data are taken from the COVID-19 Weekly Update report from the Snohomish Health District, which summarizes verified data as of the end of the previous week, in this case Sept. 19.

Critical metrics (total cases, recovered cases, deaths, and active cases) for our home cities are shown in the charts below.  The good news is that active case numbers are declining across the board (i.e., we are getting well faster than we are getting sick), an encouraging sign that our local communities are taking effective measures to stem the spread of the virus.  Note that death and active case figures are not available for Mountlake Terrace for 6/6, 6/13 and 6/20.

The local numbers summary, data as of 9/19:

Some more recent, but as yet unverified, current data are available on the Health District’s COVID Case Count page.

The data, tables and charts in today’s report come from the following sources:

— By Larry Vogel

  1. This article on leads me to ask what is the point of comparing America to India Covid numbers.

    “Even when India isn’t facing a pandemic, only 86% of deaths nationwide are even registered in government systems. And only 22% of all registered deaths get an official cause of death, certified by a doctor, said community medicine specialist Dr Hemant Shewade.”

    “In Delhi, only 63% of deaths get cause of death certification. This is the capital,” Shewade said. “Imagine when you go away, to Uttar Pradesh, to Bihar, to Jharkhand, where only 35% of deaths get registered — forget certification of cause of death.”

    “Antibody tests suggest that India may be undercounting infections by a factor 50 to 100, Laxminarayan said — meaning that although the country’s official total is 4.4 million cases, the “true” number could be upwards of 100 million.”

    “And even if a Covid-19 patient tested positive before dying, they might not be counted as a Covid-19 death if they had other preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, said Shewade, as these could be recorded as the cause of death.”

    1. Anthony, we love comparing the US to other countries who count things differently (if at all). For example, the US actually spends less per capita on healthcare than many European countries like Switzerland. PPP is used instead of nominal dollars to say that the US spends more. Spending the most on healthcare is bad I guess, but spending the most on K-12 education is okay? Is spending more or less on a service good or bad? Nigeria must be the best country in the world because they spend relatively nothing on healthcare. We beat everyone on coronavirus testing, just to find the most cases. When Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University about 10 or so years ago he said their are no homosexual people in Iran. I don’t think he counted. I’d imagine he’d get in less trouble with Iranian media if he actually counted Iran’s LGBT population than Trump did with MSN counting our coronavirus population. Orange Man bad. US is evil. It’s like punishing firefighters for finding fires.

        1. Paul, you’re referencing PPP comparison, not nominal dollars. Read up some more.

        2. Paul, Here’s a list of PPP for each country and it’s worth un-doing the maths. The data used to be published often in non-PPP values, and the US does not have the most expensive system.

          Purchasing power is a pretty bad way to compare services (healthcare). PPP barely works when comparing goods. Americans can buy cheaper elective surgeries (PPP) in Mexico than Mexicans can buy elective surgeries in Mexico, even though Mexico charges American medical tourists more than Mexicans wanting the same service. That’s PPP in a nutshell. We have more purchasing power so they charge us more. It’s not our fault that we can afford more healthcare than [say] Switzerland, or pay our doctors twice than doctors in [say] France. PPP metrics don’t tell the whole story. For example, here’s PPP on Education Spending.

          We obviously don’t have the best K-12 education in the world, so isn’t it a bad thing that we are paying for the best Education in the world? There are so many factors in that question and so much nuance that you can’t put it in a graph that makes sense.

        3. Matt, “PPP-adjusted” is the only rational way to express these figures, as the costs of health care in each country vary. “PPP-adjusted” is the best way to encapsulate “what you get for what you pay”. It is why the Kaiser Family Foundation expresses its figures in PPP-adjusted terms (and why the OECD prefers “PPP-adjusted” figures).

          “Nominal” only makes sense (to use your example) if Americans are purchasing health care in Mexico. That isn’t what the overwhelming majority of Americans do, and hence it isn’t a useful metric.

          Finally, the Kaiser Family Foundation does not include the costs of health insurance (which is not the same as costs of health care). The costs of health insurance are of course ridiculous, pushing the “per capita” number through the roof if it were to be included (there is no country on the planet that pays what we do for health insurance, including deductibles – “PPP-adjusted” or nominal).

        4. I Gotcha Paul and I appreciate the effort. 🙂 According to PPP and nominal prices, Zimbabwe pays less for healthcare than the US does. So that’s obviously the best healthcare model because less is better, except for K-12 education (paying the most for education is great!) I heard this funny story about how people are willing to pay more for food at a restaurant if the silverware is heavy. I guess it makes them feel like the food is better. Michelin should give out stars based on Silverware Weight Parity (SWP). All this is sort of the same as comparing COVID cases across countries that may or may not even care enough to test patients or count. Sweden did the best job with COVID, with an asterisk on their unusually large senior centers (lots of eggs in one basket) and their lateness in protecting that population.

  2. Just wait until the regular flu comes. People will die and I’ll bet many of those deaths will be lumped in the Covid cases. Then, the confusion will start again. Inslee will close the area. It saddens me to see many stores in Edmonds closing Or closed, and many are up for sale. Vote Culp.

    1. Yeah – trump has tested positive creating a national security issue (still evolving was of this writing).

      Wear a mask – or maybe don’t as some of you believe.

      1. Best data says that wearing a mask does little to keep you from getting Covid, the suggestion for months has been wear one to protect others from your transmitting. Now that Trump is positive he needs to wear a mask whenever he is going to be in contact with others until he tests negative twice.

        This is not a guarantee though, early reports are that Hicks gave it to people while masked. Data also shows that a significant percentage (38-62% depending on the study) of traced postives came in contact and got Covid while they were masked.

        1. Who is to say that he got it from Hicks?

          Most of his administration and supporters weren’t wearing masks (or socially isolating) at anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance. He and Hicks could have just as easily contracted it from the same third party; with their routine failure to observe even basic measures against the spread of infection we will probably never know where either of them got it from.

      2. Frank, most people wear masks, so it wouldn’t be stretch to say that someone who was wearing a mask gave it to Trump. I think it may have happened at the debate where his protocols weren’t followed. Didn’t everyone in China religiously wear masks? Why didn’t masks stop it there? Dumbo had a feather that he thought could make him fly, and this is a lot like Dumbo feathers, mandatory placebo not based in science.

        Trump’s dying wish is that Judge Amy Coney Barrett be appointed. 🙂

  3. Joy, just wait for the flu? Just wait for the COVID-19 vaccine. Some vaccines are in Phase 3 trials. Luke Hutchinson, a true believer, said he experienced full-on COVID-19 symptoms from the vaccine.

    I am guessing that the vaccine is not as likely to kill someone with comorbidities as the virus itself is, but we aren’t giving all the seniors COVID-19 in the same way we’re going to deal out a vaccine to them. I made national news back in 2003 for refusing the anthrax vaccine. I had to get fairly familiar with the vaccine process just to defend myself from a court martial. I seen the same type of military involvement, the same compulsory justification for a vaccine that likely isn’t needed. Vaccines have cured diseases and should be used in that way, but there are some that are worse than the disease itself. In the same way antibiotic abuse creates super-bugs, “Leaky” vaccines (perhaps like the flu shot) might actually be making viruses stronger.

    Area really going to give seniors a vaccine that causes bed-bound fever, migraines, tooth-shattering shivers, in someone who is otherwise young healthy? I have family in their 80’s with lots of health issues. We’re going to circle the wagons on this issue to protect us and ours.

  4. Trump now has Covid after all his worshipers and sycophants bravely went without masks in solidarity with their fearless leader. Would masks have prevented this? Who knows, but they couldn’t have hurt I suspect.

    Tuesday Trump told the Proud Boys white supremacists to “stand by” even though Wed. he said he “hadn’t heard of them before the debate” and then yesterday he said he “condemned them along with the KKK and other white supremacist organizations. This is all after he caught Covid and his few realist supporters informed him he got clobbered in the debate and is going down drastically in even his own polls. By Sunday I’m pretty sure he will be extolling the virtues of mask wearing assuming he isn’t in the ICU.

    1. Trump took HCQ too. George Washington lead from the front on smallpox. Thats how a leader leads. Biden is jealous apparently.

  5. Trump is now down 10 to 14 % in the various national polls and communicating with us from Walter Reed Hospital. He is being treated with an experimental drug that is normally used on only the most severely ill patients, in late stage disease, who have a high probability of death without it. Sort of a last resort thing (normally). Only a true follower of Trump would believe the notion that Biden is somehow jealous of Trump at this point. Biden is still aware he could possibly lose with our antiquated electoral college system (that no other nation can even understand) and Trump inspired constant election fraud chaos; but jealous? To paraphrase Biden, “come on man.”

    1. Somene pointed out we are starting to slip into name calling and so I am going to be editing comments even more closely going forward. This thread is also now closed.

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