Infection curve continues to flatten; Covid-19 numbers are moving target

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Click image to enlarge.

During Gov. Phil Scott’s Monday press conference in Montpelier, state Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine noted that the slope of the Covid-19 infection curve “has clearly changed toward more of a plateau.”

Using three charts, Levine pointed to the how the number of new infections changed with the actions taken by the state and by the public.

Click image to enlarge.

Levine noted that there were periods when “we were pretty accustomed to an average of 30 to 40 (new) cases a day with occasional times when we peaked in the middle.”

He then pointed to the past week or two, noting that the number of new infections is now routinely 10 or fewer a day. Levine also referred to the charts to show how the stay-home order and other actions taken by the state impact those numbers.

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In the foreseeable future, according to Levine, the Health Department will focus on

  • protecting the most vulnerable,
  • protecting the healthcare system so we don’t exceed its capacity and
  • protecting Vermonters from severe infection until there’s an effective anti-viral therapy and a vaccine.

Levine noted that the anti-viral therapy could take “just months” while any vaccine is likely to be a year or more.

Covid-19 cases rise by 4

As of Monday, the state had 816 positive results for coronavirus out of 12,981 tests. That’s up four cases from Sunday. Thirty-eight people have died from Covid-19 and 49 are hospitalized either with the disease or  under observation for it.

Among the total of positive tests for the virus, 63 are in Windham County, 43 are in Rutland County and 37 each in Windsor and Bennington counties.

Why the numbers don’t add up

Anyone who follows the numbers of infections, looking for the peak might be confused when the total infections on any given day don’t match either the sum of new infections or the previous days totals. But there is an explanation.

If you had saved every new state Health Department dashboard since the first one debuted on April 7 — which reported the numbers from the day before — you’d find that past numbers don’t jibe with those on today’s dashboard. A small example was on Friday when the total number of positives was 803. The following day we learned that 10 new infections had been reported but the total was 812 rather than 813. The reason is that the Health Department is reporting in real time and the information has to be confirmed on the fly. According to the Health Department, data presented each day is preliminary, and subject to change.

“The data can change for a number of reasons,” Health Department spokesman Ben Truman told The Telegraph. “For example, when further investigation finds a reported case turns out not to be one, then it would be removed from case totals.  There may also be instances where a person who was not identified as having Covid-19 dies, and the medical examiner investigation later identifies it as a Covid-19 associated death.”

To get an idea of what the stat-keepers are dealing with, here are the data notes for the numbers released on April 17.

There was a duplicate case reported on 3/30, 3/31, 4/3, and 4/9. We have updated the number of new cases from 28 to 27 on 3/31, from 71 to 70 on 4/3, and from 51 to 50 on 4/9, to reflect the true case number.

21 have been added to the list, reporting dates 3/22, 3/23, 3/29, two on 4/2, 4/4, three on 4/7, three on 4/11, three on 4/13, 4/15, and five on 4/16. Due to a lab result mis-classification, the number of new cases on 3/28 has been updated from 24 to 21.

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