On Tuesday, August 25th, Warren County reported its first COVID-19 related death. Our first positive test was reported on April 10th. It took 137 for our first reported death. The victim was a man between 60 and 80 years old. If you’re reading this and you knew the man, then my deepest condolences go out to you. I’m so sorry for your loss. The death will show up in today’s case status graphic as a tiny sliver of purple. I hope it’s our one and only death and that I won’t have cause to do any more detailed breakdowns of COVID-19 related deaths in the county.
As predicted, the high rate of positive tests and sheer number of tests reported last week has led to Warren County being flagged by the state’s tracking system. To be more specific, we had an average positive test above 8% and more than 50 cases per 100,000 for the whole week. The later number means an average of 7-8 cases per 100,000 per day which in Warren County means 1-2 cases per day. The last time we saw zero new cases in a report was August 11. The last time we saw a single new test in a day was August 13.
We ended last week with a 9.8% positive test rate and 22 new cases (130.6 cases per 100,000 people). We ended this week with 8 new cases on Friday for a total of 31 new cases this week (184 cases per 100,000) and a weekly positive test rate of 12.3%. This is all on top of the first reported death. It was not a good week. The 8 new cases reported today is the fourth highest ever reported by the county and is only beat out by the spikes in April and May. The positive test rate went up, the number of new cases reported for the week went up, and the number of deaths went up. We will most definitely be under warning from the state again next week.
I tweaked my positive test rate graphic. You’ll now see a deeper red for days that are at or above 8%. Again, this cutoff comes from the state’s county and regional benchmarks. Counties that are above 8% are likely to find themselves on the warning list. Interestingly enough, the state considers testing insufficient if the positive test rate is at or above 8% regardless of the number of tests done; it’s instantly two strikes when your positive test rate is above 8%. If a region is above 8% for more than three days in a row, then that region is likely to see increased social distancing restrictions. Our region is not there yet but we’ve been slowly be steadily moving in that direction. Warren County is definitely not helping.
The daily test result graphic has not changed. The state looks for a weekly total of 50 or more per 100,000. That’s something like 8-9 cases in Warren County or 1-2 cases per day. I considered coloring bars on days that were above that benchmark differently but that would more or less translate into differentiating between days we had positive tests and days we didn’t. I’ll probably do some weekly aggregates in the future and in that context it might make more sense.
This week’s death meant this graphic needed an update. I’ll now report total deaths along with the current active and recovered cases. I really, really hope that the tiny sliver of purple stays tiny.
The current national trend is for a decrease in the number of new cases per day. We’re not really seeing that play out here. Instead we’re seeing a steady increase. Cases continue to be focused in the more urban areas but when we look at the numbers per 100,000 people the rural counties continue to see clear signs of community spread and often look worse than the more populated counties. I’ve changed the maps so that they both only cover the past week’s worth of data. The animation and the regional total report still gives you a three week snapshot.