COVID-19 weekly report for Aug. 31. 2020

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 continued this week, adding 1.8 million cases compared to 1.7 million the previous week (see our earlier reports for Aug. 17 and Aug. 24 for comparison).  Deaths worldwide were up, with just more than 37,000 added compared to 33,000 last week. The United States continues to lead the world in sheer number of cases, passing the 6 million mark earlier this week.

In our area, the Aug. 29 totals put Washington state and Snohomish County at 74,320 and 6,178 respectively, up from 71,012 (gain of 3,308) and 5,947 (gain of 231) a week ago (see overview maps below).

The world and national situation:

The global overview map and chart from Johns Hopkins continues to show the U.S. leading the world in overall numbers of cases, ahead of Brazil and India, the only other countries surpassing 1 million.


The most recent tabular display from the World Health Organization shows similar numbers, the discrepancies due to the updates being taken in different time zones (WHO numbers are approximately 10 hours earlier than Johns Hopkins).


While the U.S. leads the world in overall case numbers, it drops to 10th place when the playing field is leveled to reflect per-capita cases (cases per one million population – ninth column from left), down from ninth place last week – now surpassing the other western hemisphere hotspot, Brazil.  Note that with the exception of Brazil (pop. 213 million) all countries with a higher per-capita count have much lower total populations, with none exceeding 20 million, compared to more than 330 million in the U.S. (see the complete interactive table here.)


Taken by region, the Americas continue to account for the majority of cases worldwide picking up just less than a million new cases last week. Note that the bar chart for the Americas continues to decline, reflecting an encouraging leveling trend in this hemisphere.

In worldwide COVID deaths per 100,000 population the U.S. continues to hold in fourth place at 55.95 COVID deaths per 100K (up from 54.04 last week), trailing Peru, Brazil and Chile. (Mortality chart from Johns Hopkins University).

The Washington state situation:

The most recent (Aug, 29) state overview from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows confirmed cases at 74,320 with 1,905 deaths, up from 71,012 and 1,863 respectively last week.


The following chart from Johns Hopkins University shows Washington state cases continuing to level, with daily new cases as of Aug. 29 dropping to 578 from the July 18 high of 959. We are now in the sixth consecutive week of declining new cases statewide, a trend officials attribute to more widespread acceptance and practice of masking and social distancing guidelines. Note that these trends reflect the state as a whole, and that hotspots continue to persist in college towns, prisons, hospitals and some counties.

This drop in new cases is also reflected in a decreased case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average), with the Aug. 27 number showing a drop of almost four from the previous week’s report of 105.6, still short of the Department of Health goal of 25.


Both COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths in Washington state are falling, reflecting the trend in overall cases (note that hospitalization chart from DOH reflects Aug. 29 data, while the mortality chart from Johns Hopkins includes data through Aug. 31).

With the new protocols in place for processing test data, DOH has resumed reporting testing activity in Washington state. For the first time, the latest figures now reflect total testing volumes rather than just the number of new individuals who got a negative or positive test result.

The charts below reflect these updated protocols, and show a continued high level of statewide testing activity. The Aug. 27 rate of positive test results has now dropped to 4 percent compared to 7 percent under the most recent report (Aug.11) using the older methodology, but this still exceeds the DOH goal of 2 percent.


As referenced above, while overall statewide numbers are falling, varying degrees of success in achieving the targets for the different reopening levels under the Governor’s Safe Start program continue to result in a mish mash of restrictions in various counties across the state. Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties remain in modified Phase 1. In our area Island County alone has qualified for Phase 3 reopening. Note that testing data was still being updated when this map was generated.

Demographic patterns as of Aug. 29 continue unchanged, with most infections reported among younger people, and most hospitalizations and deaths in older age groups.


The Snohomish County situation:

The county numbers overview as of Aug. 29 shows total confirmed cases at 6,178, and deaths up to 209 (last week’s figures were 5,947 and 206 respectively).


The county daily new case count shows an encouraging decline over the past six weeks, reflecting and surpassing the statewide trends.


Viewed over time, the critical county measures (total cases, recovered cases, and active cases) show that while yet to flatten, there is an encouraging pattern of increased numbers of recoveries, accompanied by a decrease in active cases (note that these numbers are through Aug. 22).

Cumulative case counts for the county are also through Aug. 22 and come from the weekly report from the Snohomish Health District. These do not include more recent and as yet unverified data.

Reflecting this trend, the case rate (cases per 100K population, two-week rolling average) continues the decline begun six weeks ago. Officials attribute this to the more widespread awareness and acceptance of the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. While heading in the right direction, this metric still significantly exceeds the DOH goal of 25.


Hospitalizations and deaths at the county level continue to show little change from last week, with death rates heavily skewed to older demographics (see tables below).


As noted above, testing activity reporting has resumed this week under the updated data processing protocols. The testing activity chart and table below reflect and compare overall counts with numbers of positive results through Aug. 29 and 22 respectively.

The local situation in our home cities as of Aug. 22: 

Note: These data are taken from the COVID-19 Weekly Update report from the Snohomish Health District, which summarizes verified data as of the end of the previous week, in this case Aug. 22.

Critical metrics (total cases, recovered cases, deaths, and active cases) for our home cities are shown in the charts below. For all these jurisdictions, the good news is that active case numbers have been steadily declining over the past three weeks, an encouraging sign that our local communities are taking the necessary measures to stay safe. Note that death and active case figures are not available for Mountlake Terrace for 6/6, 6/13 and 6/20.

The local numbers summary, data as of 8/22.  Note the decrease in active cases for all our home cities:

Some more recent, but as yet unverified, current data are available on the Health District’s COVID Case Count page.

Each week we scour the internet to pull together the latest information on the COVID battle, with the aim of providing our readers with a one-stop-shop on progress at all levels, from global to hyperlocal. The data, tables and charts in Monday’s report come from the following sources:

— By Larry Vogel


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