29 September 2021: A Changing Landscape?


It has been some time since I last blogged – having wanted to take a bit of a break as well as to pursue some other types of writing. One of the thoughts that prevented me from writing again is that I felt that my messaging was becoming circular.  That is, wasn’t what I would write about the state of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County essentially be the same as it was in September 2020? We are still mired in debates about the role of testing, school reopenings, travel and masking.

But a lot has changed since September 2020, most notably the development of effective vaccines.  However, when you look at an overlay plot of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County year over year, this quantum leap in prevention does not seem to have changed our population susceptibility.

In 2020, we experienced a well publicized mid summer surge peaking in July followed by a slowing of cases in September.  In 2021, that same surge occurred (with actually slightly higher caseloads) peaking in August and cases are now downtrending.

Now the graph overlapping 2021 data with 2020 for deaths does look quite a bit different – although disturbingly the mortality rate in the County rose throughout the month of August before dropping back down. So this would (at least for the April to early August 2021 data) suggest that vaccines are having their intended effect in providing significant protection against COVID-19 mortality.

The County unfortunately does not make hospitalization data available for download so we are left with this somewhat awful plot looking at raw numbers over time.

Certainly the raw number of hospitalizations looks a lot better April 2021-July 2021 than April 2020-July 2020.  Again, we see this disturbing rise in hospitalizations (as we did with mortality) in late August, early September 2021.  Granted these are dropping (a recent LA Daily News headline crowed “LA County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations drop for the 25th time in 27 days, state data shows” [sic: data show / not data shows]. But this begs the question of why did they rise in the first place?

So you see now why I took a break from blogging.  Has anything really changed in a year?

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