September 29, 2020

Lance Koonce
4 min readSep 30, 2020

NY Update. You’ve probably seen the news reports by now: The numbers are trending up in some areas of New York, in particular Rockland, Kings and Orange Counties. Rockland, which has about a third of the population of Westchester, is seeing more cases per day than we are — over the past week, we’ve had 316 new cases whereas Rockland has identified 461 new cases.

In terms of the testing positive percentage, Rockland has averaged 5% over the past week. Here’s a chart of that percentage since the beginning of August, for Rockland:

In Brooklyn, the numbers are not quite as high (note the Y axis) but there’s a definite trend:

Here in Westchester, although when I posted two weeks ago it looked as if we were seeing a bump upwards, that was temporary and we dropped again below 1% testing positive for a little while. Over the past week, though, we’ve edged back up over 1%:

Here’s the testing positive rate over 30 days for Westchester:

So, while what’s happening elsewhere in our vicinity might suggest that the recent bump over 1% here in Westchester could be indicative of further increases to come, it’s too early to tell. If the increases in other counties is tied to specific clusters and those don’t spread, we can perhaps avoid a big jump here.

For New York as a whole, those clusters of outbreaks seem to be driving a slight uptick statewide — the testing positive number in NY two days ago was over 1.5%, which is the highest we’ve seen since early June. That’s a concern.

Also a concern is hospitalizations. At the end of August we were down close to 400 hospitalizations total, but there are now 571 people in the hospital, and the number is still rising:

As for the US as a whole, the numbers have fallen somewhat since July but we are still averaging over 40,000 new cases per day, and over 725 deaths. We have a testing positivity rate of 4.5% nationwide. At this rate we’ll be nearing 300,000 deaths by year’s end (assuming we don’t get any more serious spikes).

I was happy to see only 2 high school students test positive in the testing done a few weeks ago — with over 900 people tested, that’s a positivity rate of around a fifth of a percent, which is 4 to 5 times lower than the Westchester testing average. As discussed in a prior post, this was to be expected given the testing bias inherent in the testing done on a county-wide basis compared to testing of virtually an entire subset of the population, and also given the expectation that HS students may not be as likely to catch covid (although the jury remains out on that). Based on that sample, we might guesstimate that the “real” positivity rate in Westchester this past several months for adults has been somewhere between .2% and maybe half a percent.

Of course, we’re nowhere near the kinds of numbers we were seeing back in the spring, but my take is that while we’re not going to avoid upticks, especially with colder weather, we can better manage them this time around given the precautions that are in place in NY. But the rapid way in which these small spikes are occurring in certain locales also should remind us of how quickly things can spiral if we’re not careful.