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Coronavirus Update: A curve ball? As West Virginia reopens, statics for last month show new cases increased 75 percent, deaths increased 278 percent

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 — In West Virginia — and across the nation — “the curve” has been replaced by “the percentage” as the key monitoring tool for the spread of the Coronavirus.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, the government began focusing on the percentage of new cases compared to the number of coronavirus tests being given in West Virginia 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 the state’s response.

Graphics distributed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources show the difference, 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.

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.

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 by the state has increased faster than the spread of the virus.

The WVDHHR graphics below document both trends. The two monitoring tools show dramatically different results using data from the same one-month period.

One 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.

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