13 October 2022 Blog Post: A Crazy COVID Year

Reflecting on this weekend’s LA Times article headlined “With COVID on the retreat, are Halloween, Thanksgiving and winter holiday gatherings safe?” (link: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-10/with-covid-on-the-retreat-how-safe-are-holiday-gatherings), my first question was – “is COVID really on the retreat?”

The short answer is, yes. Although what a year we have had!  Things started out with an Omicron bang in January as both incidence and prevalence rates hit dizzying new heights. Test positivity rates were so high in January that it broke our prevalence calculator which estimated that for the week ending 1/11/2022 that 72% of the County residents had the infection. We are much, much, much lower now with a 0.5% (1 in 200 residents) with active infection – down from a midsummer high of 9.8%. Our best week was that ending 3/22/2022 at 0.05% (1 in 2000 residents). So, yes, depending on your perspective COVID is in retreat. Figure 1 below graphs prevalence rate.

A similar trend is seen in incidence rates – readers will know that I have moved away from this metric as it does not include results from home rapid antigen (lateral flow) tests as the County does not tabulate these or permit reporting of these results. But even looking at only PCR results from accredited laboratories, this rate too is in retreat with 9.97 new daily cases per 100,000 for the week ending 10/4/2022 (most recent week for which complete data are available). This rate was 453.19 new daily cases per 100,000 the week ending 1/11/2022.  Figure 2 below graphs incidence rate.

Mortality follows cases and, as expected, current COVID-19 mortality rates are also “retreating”.  There are currently 0.03 daily deaths per 100,000 population in the County, as compared to our peak of 0.82 daily deaths per 100,000 the week ending 2/8/2022 (note the lag time between peak prevalence/incidence and peak mortality of about 3 weeks – again a pattern we’ve seen time and time again during the pandemic).  Figure 3 below graphs mortality rate.

Historically, October has been a time of relative COVID lull. Interestingly, 2022 (Yellow) had the highest historical midsummer prevalence rate (nearly 10% at maximum) as compared to 2020 (Blue) and 2021 (Red).  Prevalence rates for the week ending October 4th were low in all years:


2020:  0.4%

2021: 0.1%

2022: 0.5%

Enjoy the lull, because based on our 2020 and 2021 experiences, it isn’t a great secret about what happens next (Figure 5 below).

𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗨𝗽 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿

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