Last night’s COVID-19 numbers suggest we are at a bit of a crossroads.
The rate of increase in new infections has decreased slightly nationwide, but the number of active infections remains very high. Also, while total COVID-19 numbers vary significantly across the nation, most states are seeing a fairly high level of infections.
Fortunately, compared to earlier infection peaks (especially in April and May), the number of serious hospitalizations and deaths in relation to infections remains relatively low. This is the only reason that the entire health care system is not completely overwhelmed at this point.
Supporting this high level of COVID-19 activity, the R0 numbers for most states remain at the 1.2 level (meaning each COVID-19 infected person is infecting 1.2 people). This means the pandemic is still expanding. These numbers are not significantly changed over the past month; however, they are higher than two or three months ago suggesting more infectious activity.
There is now a fair consensus that social interactions around Halloween caused this last spurt in COVID-19 activity. This is one of the primary reasons for so much concern around Thanksgiving. Given the current, high level of background infections, Thanksgiving gatherings could cause an incredibly dangerous rise in COVID-19 illness. Such an increase would seriously overwhelm the health care system.
The guidance that has been given advising limiting Thanksgiving gatherings this year should be followed. We are likely going to be starting immunizations in late December, so the end of this pandemic is near. Let’s hang in there until then.
4 thoughts on “A brief update on COVID-19 numbers.”
Jim, I’m puzzled by the seeming disparity between the R(0) graph above and the rate of infection indicated in today’s NPR piece.
Vermont vs S Dakota ought to be in similar places, in terms of rates, unless I read this wrong.
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None of these numbers really make sense. The daily variations in reporting make them difficult to understand. The headlines do not match the actual reports.
Thank you for all you time helping us understand the numbers
Is there any information on how taking the vaccine may affect test results? Ie some states like Hawaii require a negative test within 72 hrs of arrival. Could taking the vaccine cause you to get a positive test?
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The vaccine will cause a positive antibody test, as it gives you an immune response to a viral protein. It WILL NOT give you a positive test for viral RNA or antigen that would suggest you are infected with COVID-19, so there should be no problem if you are tested in a manner like Hawaii.