New Data Suggests Bay Area May Be Flattening the Curve

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Friday’s Sonoma County coronavirus report signaled some hopeful news for the North Bay.  Although experts predict cases of the virus will continue to rise, perhaps sharply, the number of active coronavirus cases showed no increase day over day.  This despite the fact that hundreds more tests results were logged.

Despite this, local health officials say it is critical that shelter-in-place orders continue to be followed, and that a surge of new cases is likely to occur in the days ahead. 

Across California and other states, strict testing guidelines means that many who may have tested positive for the virus do not receive tests, and are being asked to self-quarantine at home.  And as of Saturday, the state had a backlog of more than 60 thousand testing results. As those are released, and testing guidelines expanded, the number of new cases is expected to grow in the days ahead.

And, with the number of cases and hospital admissions rising rapidly in Los Angeles, Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians on Saturday that an expected spike is beginning to occur, and should be expected in the days ahead. And he once again cautioned Californians to continue to strictly follow stay at home orders, in order to blunt the spread of the disease.

Meantime, Sonoma County officials are actively planning for, and securing surge capacity in alternative treatment sites like school gyms, dorms, auditoriums throughout the community to secure space for 500 patients.  This will allow local hospitals, who are also increasing capacity, to focus on coronavirus patient care including a probable surge of new cases.

In Sonoma County, as of Friday there were 54 cumulative COVID-19 cases including 7 new cases, of which 40 were considered active.  Thirteen patients had recovered, and one death had occurred.  There were 26 male cases, and 28 female, and of 1216 test results, 96 percent had come back negative.

Looking at the larger picture, new data analysis from the New York Times shows the first indication that early, aggressive shelter-in-place orders in the Bay Area may have had some effect in flattening the infectious curve of the coronavirus.

It should be understood that these numbers will likely change in the days ahead as testing ramps up in California and other states, and the number of confirmed cases rises.  However, in comparison with other areas with similar rates of testing, San Francisco and the Bay Area fare somewhat better in this New York Times analysis.

This graphic shows the growth rate of COVID-19 across the U.S., compared with hotspots like Wuhan and the Lombardy region of Italy.  The vertical axis shows the growth rate of the disease, at the time each metro area documented a certain number of cases per thousand (horizontal axis).  It shows that the Bay Area (San Francisco) has so far brought down the curve of growth, before the number of cases (per thousand) reached the critical levels of other major metro areas.  Seattle has also been successful, after an initial spike.

Although these numbers will change with additional testing, health experts say the trends are important.

The most dangerous region is New York, followed by Detroit.  Although the growth in cases is coming down, that is only happening after the number of cases per thousand expanded greatly.  That is why the situation is so critical in New York, and is comparable to the Lombardy region of Italy.

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