This is another graphical data update, similar to the one for October 3, because it provides long-term context to analyze Covid trends in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, we’ve once again passed a negative testing milestone – several days ago the 7 day average positivity rate for newly tested individuals reached 5% for the first time since June 3rd. Figure 1 shows testing positivity rates.
Figure 1 indicates that test positivity rates for newly tested individuals have been steadily increasing since late August after a long period in which they had been very low. In contrast, positivity rates for repeat testers have stayed low – increasing very slightly from 0.2% to 0.3% during October. The “all-test” positivity rate is a weighted average of the repeat tester and new tester positivity rate, and has increased for about a month, but relatively slowly. Over 75% of all testing is for repeat testers, holding the overall testing positivity rate in check.
Figure 2 shows hospitalization trends, with the total number of hospitalized patients on the right-hand axis, and the number of ICU patients, intubated patients, and new hospital admissions on the left hand axis. All the hospitalization metrics have been rising gradually since Labor Day, but at a slower rate than either cases or individual positivity. This may be in part because the case demographics have shifted younger compared to early in the pandemic, requiring fewer hospitalizations.
Figure 3 shows total confirmed and suspected cases on the right-hand axis and long-term care deaths and total deaths on the left-hand axis. The 7 day average number of cases has almost tripled since Labor Day and is now higher than on June 1 and rising very rapidly. This case increase is not from increased testing, but is from higher positivity rates. Today’s newly reported confirmed cases topped 1000. In contrast, deaths have stayed relatively constant since the end of July. Since June 1, 70% of all deaths have been from long-term care facilities. Of course, deaths (and hospitalizations) lag cases by at least several weeks, so it’s a bit early to discern longer-term trends.