July 20 COVID-19 update – a global and nation perspective

The report on Monday’s numbers and charts focuses on how we stack up as a state and a nation in our ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic. Since the virus first appeared in the U.S. six months ago, we have lagged behind the other nations in stemming the tide and continue to hold the dubious distinction of leading world in both overall numbers and rate of growth.

The following map and numbers from Johns Hopkins University illustrate this, with red indicating the areas of highest contagion:


The United States swims in a sea of red, with almost twice the number of cases as Brazil, the next hardest-hit nation. Particularly noteworthy is our stark contrast with Canada, our immediate neighbor to the north, which is enjoying far more success in containing the pandemic and limiting the number of cases.  The actual number (112,168 total cases in Canada as of July 20, 3 percent of the current U.S. total of 3,774,769) is too low to even show on this table.

The interactive version of this graphic offers a wealth of additional information and may be accessed here.

Comparing the 10 hardest-hit countries over the past six months, the United States emerged in March as early as the leader in infections and continues to hold this distinction. After backing off in late May, the numbers are again on the rise, securing our place as the worldwide leader in COVID cases for the foreseeable future.

This is also reflected by the following chart, which tracks the U.S. daily case count since our first reported case on Jan. 23, 2020.

Closer to home, the most recent daily snapshot provides an overview of the critical numbers in Washington state.

Drilling down, the Washington state daily case count shows a pattern that reflects the U.S. as a whole, with lower numbers in April and May prompting many counties – Snohomish among them – to apply for Phase 2 reopening under Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan. But no sooner had reopening begun than numbers were again on the rise, with the most recent daily additional cases clocking in at twice the highs recorded during the initial surge in April. Note particularly how this chart ties daily increases with policy decisions, showing a drop in new cases in the weeks after initial lockdown restrictions were imposed (amber vertical lines), and a rise in the weeks after reopening began (green vertical lines). Bear in mind that while this is an interesting correlation, the epidemiology of COVID is complex and influenced by an array of factors, so it would be premature to assume cause and effect between reopening and increased cases.

While daily death counts continue to rise slightly, they do not nearly reflect the steeper increases in new cases. It has been suggested that this might be at least partially due to the higher numbers of younger age groups contracting the virus, that younger people have more robust immune systems than older individuals, and hence can fight off infections more effectively, require fewer hospitalizations, and die at reduced rates.

Testing activity is on the rise both nationally and in Washington state as the following two charts illustrate. Note particularly the upsurge in Washington’s testing activity over the past month.

Compared with neighboring states, our rate of testing is higher and percent of positive results lower than all but Alaska.

Lastly, past demographic trends continue to hold, with the most recent data reinforcing the familiar patterns of higher numbers of infections among younger age groups, and higher deaths and hospitalizations in older demographics.


Data, charts and tables for today report come from the following sources:

Look for our next report focusing on Snohomish County later this week.

— By Larry Vogel



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