Showing posts with label corona virus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corona virus. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Pandemic's 5th Wave

There have been many news reports on Coronavirus surges in the U.S. recently, especially among the unvaccinated in the south.  The graph above shows that Cambria County is experiencing its 5th surge in COVID-19 cases.  The first surge was in the Spring of 2020.  The second was from late July to early August of last year.  The third was after Donald Trump's visits to the area (by Jr and Sr) from October to December and was by far the worst.  The fourth occurred from mid March to mid April of this year.  


We are now seeing a 5th surge following super-spreader events such as Thunder in the Valley.  The surge began on July 10 when there was a 7 day new case average of 0.71 cases per day to an average of 10.14 cases per day as of this writing.  The last death in the county was reported on July 1.  There have been 35 straight days with no new reported deaths since then.  The above graph shows that the number of cases hospitalized have decreased to a low of 3 on July 19 but has since risen to 12 as of this writing. As of yet there has been no corresponding increase in the number of cases on a ventilator.   

The graph at the left shows that a similar pattern is occurring in the state of Pennsylvania in the number of new cases.  The graph below shows that there has not yet been a corresponding increase in the number of deaths.  If the rise in the number of cases continues to accelerate, this luck will eventually run out. 

The vaccine rollout being given to the most vulnerable populations first makes it unlikely that the surge in cases and deaths will reach the awful levels seen last fall and winter. The slowing vaccination rate means that smaller surges can happen.  I have no information on how many new cases are due to the delta variant in the county.  The delta variant is not resistant to the vaccines.  The nightmare scenario is that a new variant could evolve that is resistant to the vaccines.  This would put us back to where we started with the pandemic.  Get the shots.

**Related Posts**

100 COVID-19 Deaths in Cambria County Since the Candlelight Vigil

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cuba a Failed State?

The news media has recently reported on President Biden's calling Cuba a failed state.  There have been demonstrations there due to the corona virus pandemic.  The Cuban president responded by pointing out that the 60 year embargo of Cuba has exacerbated shortages of medical supplies and other basic resources.  I thought I would compare how Cuba is faring compared to surrounding island nations Jamaica and Haiti and to the U.S.

The graph above is from the Gapminder Institute showing income and life expectancy for the four countries.  We see that while per capita income is much higher in the U.S. than Cuba, life expectancy in years is virtually the same in both countries with Jamaica and Haiti lagging behind.  Infant mortality rates (an indication of the health of the infant and the mother) is actually 40% lower in Cuba (4/1,000 births) than the U.S. (5.6/1,000), as seen in the table below, followed by the Jamaica (13.5/1,000) and Haiti (52.2/1,0000).  

Income per capita

Life Expectancy (years)

Infant Mortality per 1,000 births

COVID Case Mortality %

Covid deaths per 100,000

























The life expectancy and infant mortality data are from the World Health Organization from 2018 before the pandemic.  Johns-Hopkins University has been tracking mortality and cases for each nation from the Coronavirus.  The case mortality is 2.6 times higher for COVID in the U.S. (1.8%) compared to Cuba (0.7%) with higher rates in Jamaica (2.3) and Haiti (2.6).  The population adjusted death rate from COVID is more than 10 times higher in the US (185.61) than Cuba (17.35).  Haiti so far has a low death rate due to a low case rate.

Some may want to dismiss these numbers from the WHO and Johns-Hopkins due to their political beliefs.  The CIA (hardly a radical leftwing organization) also does estimates of life expectancy for each country in the world.  They estimate Cuba's life expectancy to be 79.41 years.  Haiti's is estimated to be 65.61 years. Jamaica's is estimated to be 73.71 years.  U.S.'s is estimated to be 80.43 years.

You can say what you want about the political system in Cuba, the mortality data do not indicate poorer outcomes there relative to their Caribbean neighbors and the U.S.  The U.S. embargo has given the Cuban government a convenient scapegoat for their problems,  the U.S.

**Related Posts**

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Higher COVID-19 Case Rates Outside of Johnstown: Even When Excluding Prisons

Coronavirus cases have slowed over the 4th of July holiday so I thought I would take a look at how they are now distributed throughout Cambria County.  This is what the distribution of cases in the county looked like in the image below on Dec 13 when the rise in cases and deaths was at its height.

Below the image at the right is the image from the PA Dept of Health website from today.  There, we see some darker colors in the central part of the Cambria County.  (I wish blogger would let me put the images side by side.)  The graph at the top shows the testing, positivity and case rates for each of the zip codes in Johnstown (15901-15909), Ebensburg (where the county jail is located), Loretto (where a federal prison is located), the county as a whole and the state.  

In the graph, there is a high positivity and case rate for the 15940 zip code (Loretto) while the testing rate is not especially high there.  A Federal Correctional Institution is located there called FCI Loretto as well as St. Francis University.  Only active cases are reported by the federal department of corrections on their website.  FCI Loretto reached its height in active cases on December 12.


Testing Rate

Positive rate


% change pos

% Change in cases

Total Johnstown






Outside Johnstown






Outside Johnstown & Ebensburg






Outside Johnstown, Ebensburg, & Loretto






Cambria Total






In the table above, I compared the rates of infection and the positivity rates for the city of Johnstown (zip codes 15901-15909) to the rest of the county, the rest of the county outside of Ebensburg and Johnstown, the rest of the county outside of Ebensburg, Johnstown, and Loretto, and Cambria County as a whole.  We see that the rates for Johnstown are 23% lower than the rest of the county for the positivity rate and likewise we see a 50% difference in the population adjusted case rates.  When we exclude Ebensburg and Johnstown from the county totals we we an additional 1% increase in the positivity rate and a 7% increase in the case rate.  When we exclude Ebensburg, Johnstown, and Loretto from the county totals, we see a 6% decrease in the positive rate and a 13% decrease in the case rate.  The case rate in the area outside of Johnstown, Ebensburg and Loretto is still 13% higher than the overall county rate.  The positivity rate is 3% higher for for this area compared to the rest of the county.

The testing rates for the three partitions of Cambria County are higher than the Johnstown rate.  Does this mean that there needs to be more testing inside of the six zip codes that make up Johnstown?  More testing is usually done when someone presents with symptoms.  I do not have vaccination or mortality data at the zip code level so some questions I cannot answer.

Hopefully on a lighter note, I remind you all that I will be having a discussion of my book at Classic Elements this Saturday at 1PM.  You are all welcome.  They are located at 314 Main St. in Johnstown, PA 15901.

**Related Posts**

Friday, June 25, 2021

100 COVID-19 Deaths in Cambria County Since the Candlelight Vigil

I couldn't stay away from the Coronavirus pandemic in the area for long.  On January 19, In This Together: Cambria County held a candlelight vigil next to the Stone Bridge in Johnstown in honor of the 340 who died from the virus since the pandemic began here on March 23.  There was one candle for each of the deceased.  As of today, June 25, the death toll in the county reached 440, an increase of 100.  

The graph below shows the trend in deaths in the county since the first case was reported.  The first death occurred on April 7 of 2020.  Since the awful months of November through January, the number of deaths has decreased but have not ceased.  The 7 day average has hovered between 0.14 per day and 1 per day since April 8.  April 8 was the last day the 7 day death rate reached zero.


This is not to say that there are no encouraging signs of progress in the battle against the virus.  The 7 day average for new cases (2.29/day) is now at its lowest level since Sept 17 of last year (2.14/day).  Likewise, the number of patients on a ventilator (1) in the county is at its lowest level since November 7.  

The graph above shows that the new cases have decreased while the vaccination rates have increased, there are still areas of concern.  Vaccination rates have slowed from 891.1 full vaccinations per day on April 17th to 148.4 per day today.  Currently, 41.25% of the county is fully vaccinated. 40.3% of vaccine eligible Caucasians are fully vaccinated in the county while 18.4% of African Americans are.

With Thunder in the Valley coming to town there is the potential for another super spreader event like the Trump rallies last fall.  The more people at the rally who are vaccinated the less likely this event is to occur.  Highlands Health is offering free vaccinations at the rally but even if they are receiving the second shot the vaccine can take three weeks to take effect.  It will take a few weeks after the rally to see if there is an increase in cases which could fuel an increase in deaths.

**Related Posts**

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

PBS Program on Data and Pandemics

PBS has a good series on how medicine has learned to fight pandemics.  This particular episode focuses on how data is used to understand and limit pandemics.  It starts with how William Farr used data to track a cholera outbreak.  I've embedded this episode here for your enjoyment and information.

**Related Posts**

Income and Life Expectancy. What does it Tell Us About US?

Friday, May 21, 2021

Pennsylvania has Become the First State in the U.S. to Curb the Governor's Emergency Powers

In the 2021 primary election in Pennsylvania there were 2 constitutional amendments on the ballot to limit the Governors emergency powers in times of a pandemic or natural disaster.  The first amendment empowers the state legislature to terminate or extend a disaster declaration with a simple majority without input by the governor. The second amendment places a 21 day limit on a disaster declaration with legislature approval needed for an extension.  A fuller explanation of these amendments can be seen here.

These amendments have been approved with 53% of the vote apiece.  In Cambria County, the first amendment received 62.7% of the vote and the second received 63.3%.  These amendments could have major ramifications for how the state handles future crises such as natural or epidemiological disasters.

For example, in the not so distant future, natural disasters related to climate change could befall this and other states.  A legislature with a majority of climate change deniers can block the governor from taking action beyond 21 days.  There is no way of knowing how many lives Gov. Wolf's disaster declaration saved but it did save lives.  

The graph above shows the daily death counts in Pennsylvania since the pandemic began.  Restrictions were made in March the death counts rose until May and then leveled decreased as personal protective equipment and ventilators became more available.  The restrictions were eased in June and deaths did not rise.  The deaths began to rise after the November election due to mask-less rallies held by the Trump campaign in the state.  Due to this restrictions were then tightened during the Christmas holidays and the deaths decreased in the state (though higher than it was before the election).  Roughly 21% of the state's eligible voters voted in the primary.

The voters who went to the polls and voted yes on these ballot questions (10.8% of the electorate in Pennsylvania) are rebuking Gov. Wolf for listening to scientists such as Rachel Levine.  Levine now works for the Biden Administration as the first transgender department head.  The right has distributed images like the one above to demonize the governor and Dr, Levine.  One has to wonder how much transphobia played a role in this primary.

Our county, Cambria County, still ranks 9th in the state in case mortality and 5th in deaths/100,000 while it voted 63% for both measures.

**Related Posts**

Our Webinar on the Corona Virus Numbers in Cambria County

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Darwin and Corona Virus Vaccine

In addition to my teaching and tracking the corona virus numbers for Cambria County I have been reading the book that is currently tied for first place on my best nonfiction book pollOn the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin.  For me it is not as dry a read as Moby Dick.  It talks about how species of plants, animals and microorganisms change over time.  

The modifications that appear in organisms appear at random.  Most of these changes are detrimental.  Once in a while a modification to a member of a species gives it an advantage in survival over its rivals.  These traits will be selected for in the population in breeding.  

Viruses and bacteria, with simpler DNA sequences than multicellular organisms can mutate more easily and be modified faster.  I wonder how many who still don't believe in Darwin's theory also believe that the Corona Virus was created by a sinister scientist in Wuhan China.  How many of these are also hesitant to be vaccinated?  As the vaccine has become more available, the 7day average for new full vaccinations has been coming down from 891.1 per day on April 18 to 332.3 per day today.

**Related Posts**

Sunday, May 2, 2021

COVID-19 Cases Have Risen in Cambria County but Deaths Have Not Due to Vaccinations (so far)

The second installment of We Are All In This Together: Pandemic-Johnstown 1918 has come out and can be seen above.  Recently there has been a rise in cases as spring has sprung.  Since the terrible months of December and January, the 7 day average for new cases fell from 214.29 on Dec 11 to 14.29 on March 20.  Since then, the 7 day average has risen to a high of 58.43 on April 19 to 49.29 today as can be seen in the graph below.  This rise has occurred after the vaccine rollout began on Jan 8.

Since the cases have risen, the deaths in the county have remained fairly stable as can be seen in the above graph.  The 7 day average for deaths reached a high of 8.14 deaths per day on Dec 17 (6 days after the spike in cases).  Since March 16, the average has not risen above 1 death per day.  

The graph above shows the trend in the 7 day average for new cases (black line), testing (red dotted line) and full vaccinations (orange line).  The lines for testing and vaccinations are on a logarithmic scale.  The number of full vaccinations per day has fallen from a high of 855.4 on April 14 to 399.9 today.  On April 13 all Pennsylvanian's over age 16 became eligible to receive the vaccine.  To date 40,920 of 31.43% in Cambria County have been fully vaccinated.

This graph from the state department of health shows that the majority of cases are between the ages of 20 and 59 throughout the state.  This information is not available at the county level.

This final graph shows that the vast majority of deaths in PA have been between ages 60 and 99.  The early phases of the vaccine rollout have focused on groups most vulnerable such as the elderly.  The vaccinations seem to be curtailing the number of deaths even though there has been a rise in cases.  The younger age groups still need to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.  

**Related Posts**

Friday, April 2, 2021

The 2021 County Health Rankings are Out


The 2021 County Health Rankings are now out for every county in the US.  The rankings use more than 60 government statistics to assess the overall health of each county.  Above is a video description of their model.  They have two overall rankings for the state: Health Outcomes (mortality and quality of life data) and Health Factors (things that contribute to the health outcomes).

The maps above show the rankings for each county in Pennsylvania.  The darker green counties have lower health outcomes rankings while the counties with darker color blue have lower health factors ranking in the map on the right.  Cambria County ranks 62nd in health outcomes (up 2 spots from last year which is not cause for celebration) and 47th on health factors which is down 3 spots since last year.

For me the overall rankings are not as interesting as the underlying statistics used to determine them.  Two individuals can have the exact some IQ score but one can have a high verbal aptitude while another can have an equally high math ability. The graph below shows the trend in mortality data (measured as years of potential life lost or YPLL).

In my book, I went in depth into the rankings to explain why last year's rankings were so low.  It was mostly racial disparities in life expectancy in the county.  In the next few posts I will go in depth into this years numbers.  Corona virus numbers are not yet factored into the rankings as 2019 is the most recent year for mortality data.  The graph above shows that Cambria's rate, though decreasing, is still higher than the state and U.S. rates. 

**Related Posts**

The graph above shows that Cambria's rate, though decreasing, is still higher than the state and U.S. rates. 

COVID-19 and County Health Rankings in PA: Which Variables Predict Cases and Deaths

Sunday, March 21, 2021

One Year of Corona Virus in Cambria County

March 23 will be the one year anniversary of the first case of coronavirus in Cambria County.  The graph above shows the trend in cases and vaccinations over the past year.  The graph below shows the trend in deaths.  The first death was reported on April 7.  The county now (as of this writing) has 12,059 cases, 402 deaths, and 19,664 full vaccinations.  As I update the numbers on Google sheets, the numbers on the graphs in this post will be updated.

I have been tracking the number of cases and deaths almost every day over the past year.  It has been a labor of love keeping track of the pandemic here.  The feedback has been mostly positive to this effort.  As more publicly available data has been released over the year, the effort has taken more and more of my time every day.  In addition to the daily posting of numbers, I have written 34 out of 47 posts on corona virus on this blog.  The more insights that I can provide for the public to guide decision making the better.

In This Together Cambria is putting together a slideshow showing the resilience of the area to the past years challenges.  Submissions are due by March 26.  One story I can add is the passing of Rosie Caeti, an old family friend who passed away last on March 13 from complications from Corona Virus at 87.  She used to babysit my dad when he was young.

Soon, the county health rankings for every county in the US will be released for 2021.  I do not yet know how or if coronavirus deaths will factor into the rankings.  

**Related Posts**