COVID-19 Data: Why the recent drop in cases is likely not a sign that the coronavirus is leaving Utah

Salt Lake City – It is refreshing to see the epidemic curve of COVID-19 in Utah declining in recent weeks after months of increased cases; However, there are indications that the number of recent cases is not showing a complete picture of COVID-19 in the state.

In the traditional sense, the spread of COVID-19 can be determined just by looking at the new cases discovered through testing. But what happens when the coronavirus test is not completely consistent?

This is where other statistics help put together how COVID-19 is currently affecting the situation.

Confirmed cases are dropping, and the rate of positivity is slowly rising

The Utah Department of Health reported 972 new cases of COVID-19 from tests conducted Friday and 802 on Saturday. These numbers are the lowest reported one-day increases since early October. In fact, it picked up 1,000 or more daily new cases announced by the Ministry of Health that date back to October 12th. The department reported another 1,700 cases of testing on Sunday, which is also well below the average in circulation for the seven days before Christmas.

The epidemic curve of COVID-19 in the state and the average rolling average of seven days for new cases have also decreased since around December 10.

This chart shows the seven-day average operating of new COVID-19 cases from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020.
This graph shows a continuous seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020. (Image: Utah Department of Health)
This graph shows the curve of Utah's COVID-19 epidemic from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020.
This graph shows the epidemiological curve of the COVID-19 virus in Utah from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020 (Image: Utah Department of Health)

However, the test is another number that fell at the same time. For example, more than 15,000 people were tested for COVID-19 on December 9 – the largest number of tests conducted after Thanksgiving, according to Ministry of Health data. Aside from a few outliers, the state has mostly reported days with fewer than 10,000 tests done since then. Testing was not conducted on Christmas Day and test sites were closed early on Christmas Eve, but a downtrend is showing on the pre-holiday chart.

Meanwhile, the percentage of test-positive tests taken, commonly referred to as the positivity rate, has only increased since the time cases have nearly decreased. As of Monday, the average seven-day-traded positivity rate in Utah was 24.4. % During that back date on December 22nd. Initial data from the end of the week indicated positive rates closer to 30%, meaning that the number will rise in the coming days.

This graph shows the COVID-19 positive rate over a seven-day period from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020.
This graph shows the rate of COVID-19 positivity over a seven-day period from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020. (Image: Utah Department of Health)

Experts said the positivity rate is an important statistic because it can provide a better assessment of how widespread the virus is in the community when test numbers fluctuate widely and become unreliable. In this case, the positivity rate is the biggest sign that COVID-19 has not left Utah entirely, even if the number of cases is declining.

“We are definitely concerned that it represents a high level of transmission in the community,” said Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare. “Hence, this is why we are constantly monitoring the situation to see if there are any additional measures that we need to take to address it.”

Vento said health officials don’t know exactly why the test is currently discontinued. However, they have seen trends throughout the epidemic and from diseases different from COVID-19. On a smaller scale, some days – such as Sunday and Monday – yield fewer tests than others. It is thought to be related when someone is expected to be in public for any reason, such as at work.

“The same concept after the holidays,” Vento said. “We’ve seen in the past where numbers are down immediately. The numbers yesterday were so low, that people were kind of – for lack of a better word – waking up from their slumber from holidays and maybe on a Tuesday, say, or Wednesday they would start thinking ‘Okay, I’ll go For the test “. This is not unusual for other respiratory diseases.”

Since testing was low, he said the epidemiological curve and the average number of cases for seven days “probably does not accurately reflect what is in the community” especially when it takes into account the days when testing was limited.

This is where the positivity rate comes in.

“You can’t just look at the cases and the average case for a period of seven days because it will not accurately reflect the same number of tests that have been done,” he added.

As for the positivity rate in Utah, it has been a rollercoaster for the past few weeks. After rising to 25.4% on November 10, it was down 21.8% on November 22 – a few days before Thanksgiving. It rose again to an all-time high of 27.2% on December 1 before falling again to 22.3% on December 13th. It has risen steadily since then but at a much slower rate.

What happened with the COVID-19 hospitalization?

Of course, the biggest concern about COVID-19 is any effect it has on hospitals and deaths. Vento said hospitalization in Utah due to the coronavirus has stabilized and even decreased slightly. This is a welcome sign for a statewide hospital system that has been on the brink of full capacity.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 usually lag behind new cases, so the state’s current peak of 606 hospital admissions on December 4 was mainly a result of the climbing up of COVID-19 cases before Thanksgiving. Public health experts have warned of holiday gatherings, fearing hospitalization will increase.

Utains appears to have responded to the pandemic’s recommendations about Thanksgiving at least. While many new cases were still being reported, they were not as many as had been feared. As a result, the state health department just before Christmas reported fewer than 500 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 for the first time since mid-November.

“While the nation has seen an increase in troop numbers – (there has been) an increase in the decline and then an increase in the post-Thanksgiving period for the United States – we haven’t quite witnessed this level of increased instances after Thanksgiving where we were thinking or worried about which is a very good thing.” .

He added that hospitals have also learned to shorten stays for patients who do not need intensive care unit care by providing recovery forms at home so that people can leave the hospital sooner.

The data may show that COVID-19 is not leaving the case even as new cases drop, but one positive sign is that new hospital admissions due to the Coronavirus are declining.

The state health department recently began reporting a rolling average of seven days of new hospital admissions per day in addition to current hospitalization figures. Utah reached a seven-day average of 92.4 daily hospitalizations on November 18. This was the day 116 new Utah states were hospitalized due to COVID-19.

This chart shows the ongoing average of seven days in new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday, December 28, 2020.
This graph shows the ongoing average of seven days in new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 from March to December 2020. It was last updated on Monday December 28, 2020 (Image: Utah Department of Health)

The rate dropped to 71.2 new hospitalizations per day as of December 22, the first day after the department period in which new hospitalization data are incomplete. These numbers are still high, especially when compared to the numbers before November. However, it shows that the following guidelines for Thanksgiving gatherings not only helped reduce the growth of new cases but also helped reduce the impact on hospitals.

The jury is still out of the debate over whether the December holiday rallies will be taken into account in any way because the holiday season doesn’t really end until after New Years Day, Friday.

Predictions are heading for the New Year

All the Health recommendations For Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanza apply on New Year. This means health officials are advising people to celebrate the holiday at home and virtually communicate with other families.

Intermountain Healthcare is even promoted A DIY New Year’s Eve ball drops a styrofoam ball and a wooden dowel as a way to celebrate the holiday at home in a fun and safe way.

Are you looking for a fun way to celebrate New Year’s Eve safely? Try creating your own ball drop experience at home! #DIY # IMTNCovid19

Posted by Intermountain Healthcare On Sunday 27 December 2020

Vento colleague, Dr Eddie Steinhum, another infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said last week that he expects to increase COVID-19 testing after New Year’s Day. One of the main reasons for this, he said, is that Utah colleges will begin their weekly group exams for students Who stay on campus for the spring semester.

Once that starts, The positivity rate will be another major factor Where the test numbers may exceed previous test standards.

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