Does This San Diego Curve Look Like It’s ‘Flattening’?

by on May 20, 2020 · 27 comments

in Health, San Diego

Here’s a smaller version of the same graph; if you squint your eyes optimistically, you can maybe see the first indication of a “flattening”.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2020 at 11:27 am

When you plot the information of the daily cases correctly, what you see is that the from March 28 to April 3 is almost identical to May 9 through May 17. There is a noticeable valley from April 5 to April 20 but still with spikes. From April 21 through through May 9, there is a definite increase. The daily average is 108 cases. When you apply that line, the average is exceeded from April 21 through May 15 with two dips below the average after a stretch from April 4 to April 21 below the average. Based on this graph, things apparently got worse after about April 20 with 1972 cases before April 20 and 3535 cases after, a 55% increase.

The trouble with numbers is perspective. It sounds bad but when compared against the population in the county of 3.338 million, the total number of cases is two tenths of one percent.

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Avatar Tyler May 20, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Let’s make sure we elucidate on the full picture and not selectively use one data point while ignoring others.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/96feda77f12f46638b984fcb1d17bd24

ICU and Deaths are clearly flattening. Percent positive continues to trend down and was at an all time low yesterday. So the number of new cases is simply a byproduct of increased testing.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 20, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Just looked at those charts, Tyler. Sorry to say the number of hospitalizations is definitely not “flattening” and neither are the ICUs. One might say “deaths” could be, but it’s not definitive.

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Avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Frank, the number of hospitalizations and ICUs in the chart is a cumulative picture, it doesn’t show the daily rate going up. The first chart showing the total cases shows an accumulation but the bottom part shows the daily rates of new cases and it looks pretty flat. The testing chart shows the same thing and, as Tyler pointed out, the trend is downward.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 20, 2020 at 2:39 pm

Of course, but there is still not enough data to feel confident that any of these are flattening. 4 days ago there were 174 new cases, then 110, then 80. There’s no trend here, fellows.

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Avatar Tyler May 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

You literally just described a trend down :)

And if I took the corresponding testing numbers for those last three days of 4363, 3408, and 2609 respectively, the # of tests per positive case trends up (good). 25.07, 30.98, 32.61.

Data points usually do not move in perfect linear fashion, which is why there is a trend line or another metric used to pull together the numerator and denominator. That is why % of positive cases is the important metric, particularly as the trend of tests continues to rise.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 20, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Not to beat a dead horse, which I guess we’re doing, there needs to be 3 instances in the trend, before it can be a “trend”.

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Avatar Tyler May 20, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Flattening = lowering rate of growth. ICU growth has gone from ~6 days for every 50 additional in ICU vs now averaging ~10 days. Is there still growth? No denying that! But we’ve cut the rate of critical case growth in half.

Hospitalizations is an interesting one. You’re right the numbers are still showing a decent of rate of growth there, but to Geoff’s point I wonder if how they calculate this has changed. I.e. early on there were some that were likely hospitalized but not tested, while now everyone who displays symptoms in the hospital is tested. Of course, if this chart include all those even “suspected” of having it when testing wasn’t available then this hospitalization rate of growth is a bit more concerning. I’m afraid we are all in the dark there.

Still, most trends are moving in the right direction.

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Avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Yes, Tyler, I had the same thought that the numbers could rising because of better testing. I decided not to mention it to be as conservative as possible but that is exactly the problem with pure data. The big question is always, are the results taken on day 30 taken in the same circumstances as day 1? Are there any factors that are different on different days meaning the data is not easily compared.

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Avatar Albert May 20, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Wear a mask and wash your hands

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Avatar Dr. Jack Hammer May 20, 2020 at 2:40 pm

“Aw, you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.”

-Homer Simpson

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Avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2020 at 3:21 pm

I like your sense of humor Dr. Jack, I wonder if it made Albert chuckle?

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks May 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

I don’t know if anybody has read the links to the scientists words that I’ve been posting on other postings here on the Rag, but bluntly, you all should.

Doesn’t anybody remember history class and the Black Plague? Just another little virus before our species figured out it wasn’t ‘bad air’ as they waved flowers in front of their faces, or bled people of their ‘bad blood’ until the died like a drained vampire victim.

What’s the biggest difference between the people of the Middle Ages and us? Science. Germ theory, vaccines, we can SEE virus’ now. But I went to town to get mail last Friday, my every-2-week trip off the property, and what did I see? People in groups, sitting at tables in restaurants breathing the circulated air, maybe 2 or 3 out of 11 on the street in masks and most of those were people over 50. I did, however, see a mom with two daughters under in line at Safeway all with masks, and the employees there still had them on, too. The oldest (maybe 10 or 11) was seriously impressed with the 70s skate I was carrying, but kept fiddling with the mask enough that it wasn’t seated properly. I let her hold my skate, squeeze the soft pool-riding green Sims Mini-Comp wheels while I politely said she should let it sit on her nose and pretend it isn’t there. She really liked my skate and, at least while in line, she quit messing with the mask.

Frank, this is a worldwide pandemic. This is SARS

How many people have a mark on their arm for the Smallpox virus vaccination?

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Avatar Richard M May 20, 2020 at 4:44 pm

FYI….The Black Plague was caused by a bacterium.

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Avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Richard got you there, seal. bacterium Yersinia pestis

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks May 20, 2020 at 3:54 pm

I don’t know if anybody has read the links to the scientists, including the WHO Pandemic Expert, words that I’ve been replying on other postings here on the Rag. Bluntly, you all should. Then act accordingly.

Doesn’t anybody remember history class and the Black Plague? Just another little virus before our species figured out it wasn’t ‘bad air’ as they waved flowers in front of their faces, or bled people of their ‘bad blood’ until the died like a drained vampire victim.

What’s the biggest difference between the people of the Middle Ages and us? Science. Germ theory, vaccines, we can SEE virus’ now. How amazingly advanced is that? But I went to town to get mail last Friday, my every-2-week trip off the property, and what did I see? People in groups, sitting at tables in restaurants breathing the circulated air, maybe 2 or 3 out of 11 on the street in masks and most of those were people over 50. I did, however, see a mom with two daughters under in line at Safeway all with masks, and the employees there still had them on, too, with gloves. The oldest (maybe 10 or 11) was seriously impressed with the 70s skate I was carrying, but kept fiddling with the mask enough that it wasn’t seating properly. I let her hold my skate, squeeze and roll the soft pool-riding green Sims Mini-Comp wheels while I politely said she should let it sit on her nose and pretend it isn’t there. She really liked my skate and, at least while in line, she quit messing with the mask. I think her mom smiled at me but who can tell, but the crinkle around her eyes suggested it. The younger one acted like the mask had always been there. Interesting…

Frank, this is a worldwide pandemic. We beat polio, we beat smallpox, but with the behavior I saw and read about around the county, that curve is (according to those article links I’ve posted) going to look like a bottle rocket in 2-5 weeks. With the incredible lack of testing nobody has any idea who caught it nor the real numbers of deaths since they are being severely under-counted and not reported. Bad for Trump’s numbers!

Covid causes strokes and heart attacks, something to do with the clotting of the blood, and nobody is testing dead bodies found in the home.

Sure seems like people now are very little different from the people of the Middle Ages. History does too repeat, and I’m very much afraid that train is coming round the bend at this country very, very soon. As my retired Army germ warfare biologist said in February, wait until we see what it looks like in August. Then we’ll know just how bad it really is. Right before the 2nd Wave (if Covid follows the viral pattern) hits in the start of the Fall flu season.

I’m staying home except for that once-every-14 days trip to the mailbox & town just like I wear a seatbelt when driving and a harness on a rope when I’m digging snow off the upper roof in winter.

sealintheSelkirks

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks May 20, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Opps. The 1st posting was a draft, please delete!

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Walter May 20, 2020 at 4:42 pm

What would be more relevant than focusing on history would be to focus on the future. What is the County doing to test and trace new cases to actually make a difference going forward?

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Avatar retired botanist May 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Gotta go with Hammer on this. Been in science too long to not understand that numbers, and data, and polls, will all present anything you want based on apriori input. Selecting sample size, not to mention dozens of other parameters, like testing vs no testing, testing availability, testing reliability, testing window, testing access, etc., etc. Its like politics…looking for an outcome, or a forecast, automatically skews the data.
Anyway, fwiw, I don’t bother looking at this sort of media-driven spin. Use common sense: if you are part of a subset at risk, just change your lifestyle habits: wear a mask if you’re around a lot of people, wear gloves when shopping in public space, take your shoes off when you come in the door. Simple stuff. Doesn’t matter which State opens, which one stays in lock-down. The Govt, at both Fed and State levels, is in total chaos chasing its tail, following charts that aren’t necessarily reflective of in-the-moment conditions, hyping drugs that have been semi-tested and are unavailable to most, touting testing availability that is entirely delusional in many regions…
Follow reasonable hygiene and you own common sense. This isn’t going away for awhile, regardless of flattening here and there. A vaccine isn’t going to be available for months, drugs (even if effective) probably won’t be available to the majority of the population.
And by all means, do not listen to Trump, or the WH, or the FDA, or anyone else roped into the corral. They don’t care about anything but the economy and the political spin. If you need guidance, talk to your PCP. And finally, tbh, its not just Covid, its the tactile, crowded world we live in now. Its not about paranoia, or OCD, its just realizing your health risks and minimizing them to the extent you can w/out going overboard. Awareness- its your best defense. :)

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Avatar big wormbowski May 20, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Retired Botanist….well said on all fronts. Take precautions, respect those that are working to provide services, etc and be considerate of vulnerable populations, and continue to be active and live some life

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Avatar Steve May 20, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Flattening refers to the logarithmic scale. When the logarithmic plot is linear, that means things are going up by a factor of 10!!!.

On a logarithmic scale, these numbers are good. They are not going up.

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Avatar Dan H May 22, 2020 at 7:11 am

Log or linear is irrelevant – flattening refers to growth. Total cases are cumulative – they won’t flatten until the virus is gone.

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Avatar Paul May 20, 2020 at 6:53 pm

This question misunderstands what “curve” needs to be “flattened.” NEW cases are what need to be flattened, because that keeps hospital capacity from being overwhelmed. Total cases will always go up every day (so long as there are new cases) because total cases is cumulative. Strip total cases from your graph, check new cases only, and then make your determination as to whether or not it’s flattened.

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Avatar CJ May 20, 2020 at 10:26 pm

Number of cases is dependent upon available testing and who is getting tested. Not a good indicator until the county is testing a significant cross section of the population. What stands out to me is the number of deaths per day. Seems like it is steady over time. Good news is it’s not increasing as social distancing has been in place. Bad news it’s not going down. Policy makers need to be asked why they want to open up the economy even though number of deaths are constant? Does this mean that a level of deaths are acceptable? Even though we are social distancing, wearing masks, improved treatment, increased access to testing, tracing–why are number of deaths constant?

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Avatar Mike May 21, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Maybe deaths are becoming more of a lagging indicator because treatments are prolonging life a little.

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Avatar Dan May 22, 2020 at 7:15 am

It means that a level of deaths are inevitable until there’s a reliable treatment or vaccine.

If deaths aren’t increasing, we’ve done all we can for now. Gradual reopening was also inevitable. Can’t stay locked at home forever.

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Avatar Ann May 21, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Actually, yeah, that curve is flat as a pancake. New cases per day is flat (trending down slightly, actually) despite increased testing. Hospitalizations and deaths are trailing indicators, but those are pretty flat, too.

Cumulative cases are increasing, because they’re cumulative.

Honestly, I’m not ready to look at that and then go running out to the bars anytime soon, but those numbers look about as good as they could be, considering how mismanaged his whole thing has been at the national level.

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