Good news from Washington state

Instead of updating Wuhan coronavirus stats for whole countries, today I want to focus on the numbers from Washington state, the original center of the outbreak in the U.S. The news from there is encouraging.

The Washington Post reports:

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals.

“We don’t know if this last two weeks has been a calm before the storm or if the social distancing and all those things that are being practiced are working,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Jeff Tomlin, whose hospital has handled 40 of Washington state’s more than 130 virus-related deaths.

It’s too early to say for sure, but if I had to bet I’d say social distancing and related practices are working and that this is not the calm before the storm.

The statewide picture is also encouraging:

In the state that saw the nation’s first confirmed covid-19 case on Jan. 31, and the first recorded coronavirus-related death on Feb. 29, initial dire predictions of massive spikes have waned even as testing has increased rapidly. While the number of cases in Washington state grew by as much as 28 percent in one day on March 15 — it has since slowed significantly statewide, as have hospitalizations and deaths.

State authorities said there have been 2,580 positive cases and 132 deaths, and as testing in Washington has ramped up, the percentage of positive cases has remained low — holding at about 7 percent.

So, fewer than 150 deaths (or exactly 150 according to this source) in a state that was once the center of the epidemic and in which the number of reported cases per day is decreasing even as testing increases.

What’s happening in Washington state seems similar to what happened in South Korea, where the number of cases “flattened.” This also happened in China, if the Chinese government’s reported numbers are half-way credible.

The progress made in Washington state has come at a significant cost to small businesses, especially in Kirkland where the epidemic broke out at a nursing home. To its credit, the Post discusses that cost in some detail.

The whole article is worth reading.

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