COVID-19 in Los Angeles County: 18 August 2020

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The general consensus among public health officials in Los Angeles County is that we are seeing improvement in COVID-19 case, hospitalization and mortality rates in Los Angeles County. I agree with their assessment and am cautiously optimistic.

Our analysis (presented below in Figures 1 and 2) do show a decrease in cases and deaths, although it is important to remember a 2-3 week lag time in reporting for these metrics. Nevertheless, mortality rates (Figure 1) in the County are certainly decreasing. They look to be approaching the most recent low from the week of 6/19/2020 (no doubt the 0.25 data point from the most recent week will revise upwards in the upcoming weeks due to reporting delays).

Similarly, Figure 2 shows that case rates are also dropping – however, the last two data points will also revise upwards and we are more likely at a rate of around 20 cases per day per 100,000 population. This is a far cry from the steady state we had attained in June at around 9 cases per day per 100,000 population.

One point of concern, however, is that testing rates are decreasing. This is a metric that should have essentially zero lag time. There has been a 24% drop off since the most recent high rate for the week ending 7/17/2020. Optimally we would like to see fewer cases in the context of more testing.

This brings me to my final point which is dispelling a notion of ‘turning a corner’ brought up in the attached article. This really is not an accurate description of what occurs in a pandemic among a population with little or no natural immunity. Instead we can expect a slow downtrend in cases, rather than a sharp drop.


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