Salt Lake City—After months of increasing cases, the epidemiological curve of COVID-19 in Utah has fallen refreshingly in recent weeks; however, there are signs that the recent number of cases does not show the complete picture of COVID-19 in the state.
In the traditional sense, the spread of COVID-19 can be determined by simply looking at new cases discovered through testing. But what happens when the coronavirus tests are inconsistent?
There, other statistics can help summarize how COVID-19 is currently affecting the state.
The number of confirmed cases has fallen, and the positive rate has risen slowly
The Utah Department of Health reported 972 new COVID-1
Since around December 10, the state’s COVID-19 epidemiological curve and the rolling average of 7-day new cases have also been declining.
In other words, the test is another number that drops at the same time. For example, according to data from the health department, on December 9, more than 15,000 people were tested for COVID-19, which is the most tested after Thanksgiving. With the exception of some outliers, the state has reported less than 10,000 tests most of the time since. The test was not conducted on Christmas Day. The test site was closed very early on Christmas Eve, but the downward trend is visible on the chart before the holiday.
At the same time, the percentage of positive tests (usually referred to as the positive rate) of tests performed has only increased since the decline in cases. As of Monday, as of December 22, Utah’s 7-day rolling average positive rate was 24.4%. Preliminary data over the weekend shows that the positive rate is close to 30%, which means that the positive rate will rise in the coming days.
Experts say that the positive rate is an important statistic because it can better assess the prevalence of the virus in the community when the test numbers fluctuate sharply and become unreliable. In this case, even if the number of cases is declining, the positive rate is the biggest sign that COVID-19 has not completely left Utah.
Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said: “Of course we are worried because it represents a high level of transmission in the community.” “So that’s why we constantly monitor the situation to see if other measures are needed to solve this problem. .”
Vinto said health officials don’t know why the test is now down. However, they saw the entire pandemic trend and the trend of diseases other than COVID-19. On a smaller scale, certain days (such as Sunday and Monday) produce fewer tests than others. It is believed that these factors are related to when someone shows up in public for any reason (such as work).
Vento said: “The same concept after the holidays.” “The numbers we saw in the past dropped immediately. Yesterday’s numbers were very low, and people (due to lack of better word-of-mouth) are waking up from a deep sleep during the holidays, such as in On Tuesday or Wednesday, they will start thinking “OK, I’m going to get the test.” It is also common for other respiratory diseases.”
He said that due to the decline in testing, the 7-day continuous average of the epidemiological curve and case count “may not accurately reflect the condition of the community”, especially when considering the days when testing is limited.
This is where positivity comes into play.
He added: “You can’t just look at the case and the 7-day rolling average of the case because it cannot accurately reflect the same number of tests that have been completed.”
As for the positive rate in Utah, it has been a roller coaster for the past few weeks. After climbing to 25.4% on November 10, it fell by 21.8% on November 22 (a few days before Thanksgiving). It rose again to a record high of 27.2% on December 1, and then fell back to 22.3% on December 13. Since then, it has been climbing steadily, but the growth rate is much slower.
How is the COVID-19 hospitalization?
Of course, the biggest problem with COVID-19 is its impact on hospitals and death. Winto said that due to the coronavirus, the number of hospitalizations in Utah has stabilized or even declined. This is a welcome sign for the statewide hospital system on the edge of the state.
Since hospitalizations caused by COVID-19 usually lag behind new cases, the state currently reached a peak of 606 hospitalizations on December 4, mainly due to the increase in COVID-19 cases before Thanksgiving. Public health experts warned of holiday gatherings, fearing that hospitalizations would only increase.
It seems that Utahans have noticed the pandemic advice at least on Thanksgiving Day. Although there are still many new cases reported, they are not as many as feared. As a result, since mid-November, the national health department has reported that fewer than 500 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 before Christmas.
“Although the country experienced a surge in a surge, it experienced a surge in decline in the United States, and then a surge after Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, because we are thinking or paying attention, we did not see so much. Cases increase., this is very good.” He said.
He added that the hospital has also learned to shorten the hospital stay of patients who do not require ICU care by providing a home recovery model, so that people can leave the hospital faster.
The data may indicate that COVID-19 has not left the state even though new cases have fallen, but a positive sign is that new hospitalizations due to the coronavirus are declining.
The national health department has recently begun to report a 7-day rolling average of new hospitalizations each day based on current hospitalization figures. On November 18th, an average of 92.4 people were hospitalized in Utah every day for 7 days. This was a record day. 116 new Utahans were admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19.
As of December 22, the average daily rate dropped to 71.2 cases, which was the first day after the department’s incomplete new hospitalization data. These numbers are still high, especially when compared to the figures before November. However, it shows that following the guidelines for Thanksgiving gatherings not only helps reduce the growth of new cases, but also helps reduce the impact on hospitals.
Whether the holiday party in December will have any impact is still inconclusive, because the holiday will not really end until after Friday’s New Year’s Day.
Looking forward to the new year
All health recommendations for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are applicable to the New Year. This means that health officials advise people to celebrate holidays at home and establish virtual connections with other families.
Intermountain Healthcare even promoted the use of styrofoam balls and wooden dowels to make their own New Year’s Eve balls as a fun and safe way to celebrate the holiday at home.
Looking for a fun way to celebrate New Year’s Eve safely? Try to create your own drop ball experience at home! #DIY#IMTNCovid19
Published by Intermountain Healthcare on Sunday, December 27, 2020
Vento’s colleague, Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, another infectious disease doctor at Intermountain Healthcare, said last week that he expects COVID-19 testing to increase after New Year’s Day. He said that one of the main reasons for this is that Utah universities will begin conducting large-scale weekly tests on students who stay on campus during the spring semester.
Once started, the positive rate will be another key factor, as the number of tests may exceed previous test specifications.