WV Press Report
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In West Virginia — and across the nation — “the curve” has been replaced by “the percentage” as the key monitoring tool for the spread of the Coronavirus.
In February, March and early April, residents were told to watch for the curve, which is influenced by the growth of new cases each day. It was said to be the best indicator that social distancing was working and reducing the spread of the disease.
However, in late April and May, as talk of reopening increased, the government began focusing on the percentage of new cases compared to the number of coronavirus tests being given each day. The percentage is influenced by the number of tests being given each day.
The two tools monitor different elements of coronavirus tracking and generate vastly different results and trends. The curve monitors the virus; the percentage monitors government’s response.
Graphics distributed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources show the differences, depending on whether you are following the curve or the percentage.
West Virginia has had a decline in the “percentage” but no decrease in the “curve,” which is more of a “fastball” showing a continuing upward trend of cases.
West Virginia had 863 cases on April 19 and has 1,509 on May 19. That is an increase of 646 cases, or a 75-percent increase in one month. On April 19, the state had 18 deaths and a month later that number is 68. That’s an increase of 278 percent.
The curve shows the virus is still spreading and the number of cases almost doubled in the last month.
In terms of testing, on April 19, West Virginia’s percentage of new cases compared to the number of tests given was at 4.91 percent. On, May 19, that percentage is 1.93 percent. That’s a marked decline in the percentage of positive tests per day as compared to the number of tests given.
Testing has increased. On April 19, West Virginia had done 20,031 tests. As of May 19, the state has done 78,301 tests. That is an increase in testing of 291 percent.*
The percentage shows the amount of testing done by the state has increased faster than the spread of the virus; however, the virus is still spreading.
The WVDHHR graphics below document both trends. The two monitoring tools show dramatically different results using data from the same one-month period.
A question: Which is more important to residents of West Virginia and the most important to safely reopening the state ?
- edited and paragraph added on May 20, 2020.