December 7, 2020

Lance Koonce
5 min readDec 7, 2020

NY Update. 79 years ago, the nation lost 2403 souls in the attack on Pearl Harbor. As always, we remember their sacrifice on this day.

It’s not really appropriate to compare national tragedies, because each is caused by their own unique factors and each deserve their own attention.

Still, as humans we tend to struggle with contextualizing large numbers, so I would only offer that over the last week, in this country, we have lost on average 2209 per day to COVID. There have been at least 280,000 deaths from COVID in the US so far. At our current pace, we will surpass the number of US lives lost in combat during all of WWII (291,000) by week’s end.

So, anyway, I wish I had some good news to report on the COVID front, but right now the promise of vaccinations starting soon seems to be the only upbeat story.

In the Pelhams, as of Friday we had 80 active cases. Compare that to a month ago, when we had 20 active cases . The county report says we’ve had 463 cases in Pelham since they started keeping count, so nearly 20% of our known cases across the whole period are active right now.

In Westchester, the testing-positivity rate is now just under 6% for the last seven days, with 68 cases per 100,000 people and an average of 652 new cases per day. Just 8 weeks ago, we were at 1.29%, 8 cases per 100k, and 79 new cases per day. Over the summer, we were seeing only a few deaths per week; now we’re seeing 2+ deaths per day.

Here’s how we look compared to other counties in the Mid-Hudson region:

Here’s Westchester’s testing positivity chart on a 7-day average for the past 8 weeks:

And the new cases per week, for each of the last eight weeks:

And the number of deaths per week for the last eight weeks:

It’s also worth taking a look at where we are looking back at the entire nine-month period since early March — as you’ll see in the charts below, we’re starting to trend back towards those numbers, although we’re not there yet.

The trend back towards March numbers is most easily seen in the daily new case count in the county:

The testing-positive rise looks a bit less dramatic, but that’s because the positivity number in March and April was likely inflated, as we were just not doing much testing, so most of the people being tested were people who were suspected of having COVID (that is, there was a selection bias).

The chart showing deaths per day in Westchester is even less dramatic, since we’re not even close to the 30+ daily fatalities we saw back in April:

However, there are a few things to remember here. First and foremost, the worst is yet to come. Two weeks ago, we were seeing new cases numbering around 375/day, but that number has recently doubled. So we likely will see daily fatalities jump as well this week and as we go forward. But also, I’m not sure we’re seeing the kind of runaway infections in places like nursing homes that we saw in March and April. Add that to the fact that doctors are better at treating it, hopefully we never see the daily fatalities we saw back then in the county.

Still, the number of hospitalizations is on the rise, which also indicates there will be a sharp rise in fatalities. In the mid-Hudson region, the chart still points pretty steeply upward:

Turning to New York State, the testing-positivity number is just under 5%. The daily case count has already returned to what was being reported last spring:

Hospitalization also continue a steep climb state-wide:

Not surprisingly, the rise in daily fatalities has also been dramatic — here are the last 60 days in New York:

Although, again, nowhere close to where we were in the spring, at least as of yet:

Nationwide, the most dramatic charts continue to be the ones showing hospitalization and ICU admissions:

But the chart showing daily fatalities is pretty grim, too:

We’ve now seen multiple days with more than 2500 deaths per day, and since the number of new cases reported per keeps climbing, so will those fatality figures.

Below is an updated version of the chart I’ve provided before which tries to estimate the number of fatalities in the US for upcoming two-week periods, based on reported case numbers. The color-coding shows the projected deaths based on case numbers and a case fatality rate between 1% and 2%; the corresponding color in the “actual deaths” column shows that the deaths lag behind by about two weeks. Here, the chart predicts that for the two-week period ending December 12, we should see somewhere north of 25,000 deaths, and with 16,268 over the first 8 days, we are on track to hit that number. And with case numbers still rising, we will see fatality totals exceeding what we saw in April very soon.

What’s particularly grim is that it’s only starting this week that we are really likely to see the impact of Thanksgiving travels and gatherings. It’s been 11 days since Thanksgiving day, so by mid-week this week — and certainly by the weekend — we should have a sense of how big an impact there will be on case numbers.