Friday, December 25, 2020

Testing and New Cases Declined in Cambria County While The Positive Test Rate Remains High

The graph above shows how the rise in cases appears to be levelling off in Cambria County since Donald Trump came here on October 13. The 7 day average for new cases reached a high of 214.29 on Dec 11 and has steadily decreased to 96.57 on Dec 25 (a 54.7% decrease) as can be seen in the solid black line in the graph below.

Also in the graph above we see that the 7 day average number of test results presented per day in the county (dotted red line in the graph) also decreased from 335 per day on Dec 11 and also decreased to 182 per day on Dec 25, a decrease of 45.7% over the same period.  This is a 9% smaller rate of decrease than that of cases in the county.

This graph above shows how the cumulative positive testing rates for the county (dotted blue line), Pennsylvania (red line), and the U.S. (yellow line).  The 7 day average for positive tests peaked at 68.29% on Dec 8 to 53.14% on Dec 25.  This is only a 22.2% decrease which is smaller than the decrease in cases and testing.  

On December 13 I posted on how the % of test results (46.8% today) for Greater Johnstown (zip codes 15901 thru 15909) was higher than the % of positive cases there (41.1% today).  This suggests that the cumulative testing rate for Johnstown is 31.48% while it is 35.74% for the rest of the county, a 13.53% increase outside of Johnstown.  The cumulative positive testing rate is 16.71% for Greater Johnstown while for the rest of the county it is 21.15%, a 26.54% increase.

While it is encouraging to watch the number of new positive cases decrease in Cambria County, the smaller decrease in the positive cases suggests that there may be more cases that are being missed, especially outside of Greater Johnstown.  The 7 day average for deaths in the county peaked at 8.14 per day on December 17 and decreased to 5 per day this Christmas day.  The peak in deaths came 6 days after the peak in cases in the county.  Lets hope the trend continues.  The Governor's order against dine in restaurant eating and gym us appears to be curtailing the rise in cases.  I wish I had better news this Christmas night.


Dave Sutor of the Tribune Democrat has tweeted that Conemaugh Memorial hospital has rented refrigerator trailers to handle possible over crowding at the morgue.

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

In This Together Cambria Town Hall


I have written extensively on this blog about the coronavirus epidemic in the area The graphs below show how cases and deaths have risen exponentially in Cambria County.  The county now ranks second in Pennsylvania in the number of cumulative cases per 100,000, seventh in deaths per 100,000, sixth in hospitalizations, and fourth in persons on a ventilator.  

In response to the rise in cases and deaths the group In This Together Cambria was formed to inform the public and pressure community leaders to take this pandemic more seriously.  This Tuesday, Dec 22 at 7PM they will be having a virtual town hall.  Chip Minemyer of the Tribune Democrat (who lost his mother to COVID-19) will moderate.  The panelists are UPJ biology professor Jill D. Henning and UPJ communication professor Susan Wieczorek.  You may participate via zoom at (Meeting ID: 929 5256 2170) , or you can access it on the phone toll free at 1-877-853-5247.  

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Testing Rates are Higher in Downtown Johnstown but There Are More Cases of COVID-19 in the Rest of Cambria County

Yesterday WJAC TV reported that Cambria County had the highest rate of new cases in the nation.  Looking at the New York Times COVID-19 today, the county (which is listed a Johnstown because the county is the Johnstown metropolitan statistical area) ranks 6th today.  Last week I posted on the elevated mortality rate in the county since Trump came here.  This week I will look at the distribution of cases and testing in Cambria County.

On April 26th this is what the distribution of cases looked like for Cambria County at the zip code level.  You can see a lot of white zip codes where there are no cases.  I started tracking testing at the zip code level on May 12.  On that day, 56.3% of the testing in the county was in the greater Johnstown area which I define as the zip codes 15901 through 15909.  The cases were not tracked then because if the cases were between 1 and 4 in that zip code, the exact number of cases was redacted.

The second map is from July 1 where we can see clustering of cases around Johnstown in the southwest corner of the county and in Ebensburg which is in the center of the county.  On this date 55.4% of te testing was in the Greater Johnstown area.  The cases in many zip codes were still redacted at this time.

This image is from October 27th.  In this image I have the 15901 zip code highlighted which is downtown Johnstown.  There were 30 confirmed cases there and the number of probable cases was redacted because there were between 1 and 4 persons with this designation to protect individual privacy.  We can also see an increase in cases in the 15931 zip code where Ebensburg is located with 200 cases.  The increase in Ebensburg is at least partly due to an outbreak at the local county jail.  On this date, 47.8% of the testing was in the Greater Johnstown area while only 36.4% of the cases were there.  

The image above is from today ,December 13.  We can see that the 15901 zip code now has 172 conformed and 19 probable cases for a total of 191 cases.  The 15904, 15905, and 15931 zip codes are darker colored because they have more than 500 cases.  Today 46.7% of the total test results are in Greater Johnstown (and thus 53.3% of the testing is in the remainder of the county) while only 40.2% of the cases are (with 59.8% of the cases in the remainder of the county).  This indicates that the rise in testing in the remainder of the county lags behind the rise in cases there.  Greater Johnstown accounts for 50% of the county's population.  The table below shows the rates of testing and cases for each Johnstown zip code, Ebensburg and Cambria County.  There's no room for US and Pennsylvania data on this page but you can see it on google sheets at the Johnstown zip code testing tab








total Johnstown

15931 (Ebensburg)

Cambria County











Testing 12/13/2020










Testing rate 12/13/2020










cases 12/13/2020










Positive rate 12/13/2020










Cases per 100k 12/13/2020










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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Mortality in Cambria County: Our Luck Has Run Out Thanks to Trump

I'm back to posting about the coronavirus.  At the beginning of November, I posted on how mortality was surging in Blair and Westmoreland Counties which are to the west and east of Cambria County respectively.  While deaths a still rising in those counties, Cambria County has eclipsed them both since Trump came here on October 13.

Before October 13 there were 7 total deaths in the county.  On October 13 Trump came to the Johnstown area airport to campaign for his reelection.  The red dot on the blue line in the chart shows the date of the rally.

As of this date, the cases have now risen to 103, a net increase of 96 deaths.  Thirty five of these deaths have occurred in the last 3 days. The 7day average for new cases in the county was 15.43 new cases per day on October 13.  Today's average was 186.86 per day.

The first reported deaths after the rally were on October 28th.  The cumulative case mortality (the number of deaths has increased from 0.64% on the 28th to 1.80% today.  This is an indication that deaths have risen faster than the cases.  The graph shows that the case mortality rates for Pennsylvania and the US have decreased over the same period.  The decrease was from 2.58% to 1.93% for the U.S. and from 4.34% to 2.70% for Pennsylvania.  For the U.S. and the state, the number of deaths has not risen faster than the number of cases.

This graph from the state Department of Health's shows the increase in the number of cases hospitalized in the county.  The large bend in the curve occurred on October 30 when there were 18 cases hospitalized and has increased exponentially ever since to 86 cases today.  

The second graph above from the state Department of Health website shows the trend in the number of cases on a ventilator. Over the same period there were three cases on a ventilator on October 30.  Today there are eight cases on a ventilator in the county.

Cases have likewise increased in the county in nursing homes (or long term care facilities), in the county jail and in the federal prison in Loretto, PA.  There 97 cases in nursing homes on Oct. 30.  Currently there are 643 in 28 facilities with 38 reported deaths or 37% of the total deaths.  At the federal prison in Loretto, there were 8 active cases on Oct 30.  Currently there are 189.  I have no daily numbers at the county jail in Ebensburg.  

Contact tracing is needed to definitively establish a link between the Trump rally and the rise in cases and deaths in Cambria County.  However it is hard to disprove a link between the two events.  A week after the election the county republican party chartered a bus to the million MAGA march in Washington DC.  Just what we needed, another super spreader event where people can bring back the virus to their communities.  It has been shown that counties that voted heavily for Trump have the worst virus surges.


WJAC now reports that Cambria County now has the third highest positive test rate in the U.S.  I have the cumulative rate at 14.65% which is higher than the state rate which is 12.54% and the U.S. rate which is at  7.21%.  A rising positive rate suggests that there are more cases to find than are being tested for.  The news report can be seen here.

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Sunday, November 29, 2020

A Tie for First Place in the Best Nonfiction Book of All Time Poll

I'll take another break from Coronavirus to talk about my book and the second anniversary of my Best Nonfiction Book of All Time poll.  Hopefully it's more inspiring this holiday season.  First my book.

Christmas tree created by Duane Webb showing books by local authors (myself included).  You can bid on it at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County's silent auction on Menoher Blvd

Wuthering Depths in Johnstown: By the Numbers now ranks tenth on the Made in Somerset County best seller list out of 46 books.  It is now listed as sold out so I will have to get them more copies for the holidays.

As a reminder I will be having a book signing at AT Merchant in the Galleria Mall in Johnstown this Saturday from noon to three.  Hope you can make it.  

My book is now available at Riek's of Brownstown in addition to the other bookstores:  Classic ElementsYoung Hearts Books and ToysChameleon BookstoreSecond Chapter Books in Ligonier, and the Bottle Works Ethnic arts Center.

This week marks the second anniversary of my poll for the best nonfiction book of all time.  This time last year, the poll had 45 responses.  This year it has 57 total responses.  The top 6 responses are in the table below.


Number (%)

1.    On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)

15 (26.3%)

1.    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

15 (26.3%)

2.    Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

13 (22.8%)

3.    Night by Elie Wiesel (1956)

11 (19.3%)

4.    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (2000)

9 (15.8%)

5.    Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

8 (14%)

As you can see, there is currently a tie for the top spot between the Origin of Species and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.  Last year, Darwin's book held the top spot while Anne Frank's diary was in the tie for second with the Silent SpringNight by Elie Wiesel moved up one spot.  Stephen King's book On Writing entered the top 5 while Henry David Thoreau's Walden moved down one spot.  

You are more than welcome to break the tie or create new ones by voting in the poll in by clicking on the tab at the top.  There is no finality to the poll but you can make your voice heard.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

The Kardashians of Cambria County


Ha ha ha!  Made you look.  There are no Kardashians in Cambria County that I know of.  Do you?

I could make this post about how mortality in Cambria County from COVID-19 has been skyrocketing this month (25 deaths since October 28).  However I thought I would comment on how I had to battle fluff in this county and what happens when what I post challenges the conventional wisdom.

Eleven days ago I posted on how Joe Biden won the city of Johnstown by 80 votes. I thought I would share some of the comments that I received on Facebook on that post.  The names are deleted out of respect.

"I can honestly believe that because the poll workers downtown were shady. They actually said who we were and what political party we were for." 

"PA and Arizona have just pulled the win from Joe and Michigan is right behind . Joe is as of now down to 259 electoral vote and NO LONGER THE PROJECTED WINNER."

"Well seeing there is a lot of freeloaders in Johnstown I’m not surprised." 

"Fake News."

"He won Philly by more than that . So what ?" 

"Bozo Joe didn’t win Johnstown Trump took Cambria County."

"82 out of 74 democrats voted for Biden."

"There ain't no way."

"(Name deleted)...excuse you read something watch the waters the democrats or about to go down in history as the most corrupt party joe biden has just become a suspect of treason in another country so like I said watch the water"

"Prolly had under age or dead people lol."

"I would think that is another johnstown, not pa."

I wonder how many of them actually read my post?

Also about my book, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association has refused to sell my book.  They said that because I discussed the statistics surrounding the abuse of children by Catholic Priests and crime statistics which include sexual assault that it was too explicit for children.  I would argue that their holocaust exhibit is more explicit.  I am waiting for an answer on whether the Johnstown National Flood Memorial will sell my book.  The book has been selling at other places such as Classic Elements, Young Hearts Books and Toys, Chameleon BookstoreSecond Chapter Books in Ligonier and at Made in Somerset County.  I will be having a book signing at AT Merchant on December 5 from noon to 3PM in the Galleria Mall in Johnstown.  Finally you can read an Our Town article on my book here.

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