When I last wrote about the high rate of Covid infection in Chester County, about six weeks ago, I thought we might see a decline within a week or two because, in many places, the Delta variant had caused a sharp spike in cases which was almost immediately followed by an equally sharp drop.
That didn’t happen here. Instead, the rate of new infections has basically held steady, at between 110 and 140 new cases per day, on average, according to the New York Times. The NYT chart showing Chester County confirmed cases is below.
While the 7-day average is still above 100 new cases per day, the last few days have been well below that level.
The website Covidestim.org, which has become my go-to source for solid Covid data (it’s run by three of the top university public-health departments) is showing a new case rate of 50.8 per 100,000 of population for Chester County. That’s well below the Delta peak of around 100 per 100,000 near the end of September.
The local spread of Covid is slowing. Significantly, the Rt figure reported by Covidestim.org has dropped to 0.81 for Chester County. This number, which indicates how rapidly Covid is spreading, had been hovering slightly above 1.0 since late August. An Rt number below 1 (which is what we have now) indicates that the spread is slowing and cases can be expected to taper off.
The weekly official reports of our county health department are also gradually improving. As of last Friday, they show a case rate of 104 per 100,000, down from 133 per 100,000 two weeks ago. (There are major differences between the rates reported by the county, the NYT, and Covidestim.org. They have to do with the sources of data and the treatment of over- and under-reporting. For my purposes today, I am just focusing on the trend.)
The positivity rate for PCR tests remains stubbornly high (around 6% as reported by both the county and the NYT). However (for reasons mentioned in my previous coverage) I’m not sure that rate is a useful indicator any more.
I’m ready to loosen up. For those of you who read my previous blog post, you know that I have been very cautious about what I felt comfortable doing. However, given the present downward case trend and assuming that it continues, I’m ready to say that the infection risk has become acceptable for me. I’m looking forward to rehearsing with the Kendal Singers. Jan and I are looking forward to eating in the dining room again. And I think eating in a well-ventilated restaurant with spread-out tables is acceptable for me now, as well.
Others will have different risk thresholds, of course. In particular those with compromised immunity will still want to be careful. New variants may crop up, creating new surges. But I think we may have turned a corner on the Delta variant.