Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 25, 2020

There is no good news in today’s report. The 7 day average percentage of positive cases for newly tested individuals hit 2.6% today, the highest level since June 14th.  This rate has been climbing for several days, after being below 2.0% from the end of June until the first week of September.  Repeat testers are now over 70% of those tested, and they continue to have a very low positivity rate of 0.2%.  However, the results for first-time testers are so bad that total test rate positivity hit 0.9% after being at 0.8% for over a week.

Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 25, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.6% 2.1% 1.5%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.8% 2.3% 1.6%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.9% 0.8% 1.0%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.6% 2.1% 1.5%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.2% 0.4%
Percentage Repeat Testers   73.1% 69.2% 47.1%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   16,689 14,682 19,555
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   54,177 46,426 29,485

Hospitalization statistics are no better than the testing statistics.  The 7 day average of patients hospitalized is now at its highest level since mid-August.  The number of patients in the ICU is at its highest level since mid-to-late July, and the number of intubated patients is higher than at any point since late July.

Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
September 25, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   370 332 324
Covid Patients in ICU   69 62 60
Covid Patients Intubed   29 23 26
New Confirmed Patients   22 19 16
         
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   19% 19% 19%
Percent Intubated / ICU   42% 37% 43%

Although I don’t think case statistics are the best way to measure progress against the pandemic, it is notable that the 7 day average of reported confirmed cases is at the highest level since early June.  And the death count marches onward, with little improvement in the number of deaths or the percentage of deaths in long-term care facilities.  In short, we’re heading backwards.

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
September 25, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths Including Suspected   15 13 17
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   14 13 17
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   10 9 11
Percent from Long-Term Care   70% 69% 65%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   414 371 343
Total Confirmed Cases   392 338 322

 

Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update: September 21, 2020

My apologies. I slightly re-injured my back about a week ago, and think it might be in part because I had spent time hunched over a computer doing research and writing this blog. So, I’ve curtailed posts to these periodic data updates for now.

Very little has changed with regard to testing since the last update several days ago. The positivity rate for both those newly tested and for repeat testers seems to have stabilized  – about 2.0-2.2% for those newly tested, and 0.2-0.3% for repeat testers. However, the percentage of tests given to repeat testers continues to gradually increase, and is now almost 70% of all tests. Testing in aggregate is leveling off.

Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 21, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.1% 2.2% 1.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.2% 2.4% 1.5%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.8% 0.9% 1.1%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.1% 2.2% 1.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.2% 0.6%
Percentage Repeat Testers   69.7% 67.5% 36.2%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   14,890 17,957 16,655
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   45,880 44,448 24,258

 

Unfortunately, hospitalizations are on the rise, with the 7-day average increasing to a level last seen exactly one month ago, on August 21st. The same is true for ICU patients, and the number of intubated patients (7 day averages) is the highest since the beginning of September.

Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Averages
September 21, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   353 328 339
Covid Patients in ICU   63 58 61
Covid Patients Intubed   27 22 22
New Confirmed Patients   22 18 15
         
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   18% 18% 18%
Percent Intubated / ICU   44% 37% 36%

 

Unfortunately, the percentage of deaths from long-term care facilities has moved back up to 72% after dipping for a few weeks.  Massachusetts clearly does not yet have this under control.  Although case counts are not the best indicator of how widespread Covid is in the community, the 7-day average of confirmed cases (and the number of confirmed and suspected cases) hit its highest level since the beginning of June.  Some of this is from increased testing, but positivity rates for those newly tested had been under 2% from the end of June until earlier this month. 

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 21, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths Including Suspected   14 12 14
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   14 12 14
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   10 7 9
Percent from Long-Term Care   72% 59% 68%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   388 328 269
Total Confirmed Cases   369 299 253

 

Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 17,2020

The positivity rate for newly tested people dropped back to 2.0% today after reaching 2.2% several days ago, primarily from today’s newly reported data  (1.5% positive on a large number of tests). Suspected cases have increased quite a bit over the past week (almost 30 per day compared to 10 a day the week before), which explains the widening difference between the confirmed case positivity rate and the confirmed plus suspected case rate. Testing is leveling out, and repeat testers are now over two-thirds of those tested.  The number of newly tested people is lower than last week and one month ago.

Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 17, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.0% 2.1% 1.6%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.3% 2.2% 1.7%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.8% 0.9% 1.3%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.0% 2.1% 1.6%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.3% 0.7%
Percentage Repeat Testers   67.3% 65.3% 32.7%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   14,959 19,780 15,699
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   43,096 42,140 22,780

And the beat goes on.  Hospitalization data remains basically unchanged from a week or month ago, except for a minor decline in the total number of patients hospitalized.

Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Averages
September 17, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   331 330 375
Covid Patients in ICU   61 53 63
Covid Patients Intubed   23 23 26
New Confirmed Patients   19 21 20
         
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   19% 16% 17%
Percent Intubated / ICU   37% 43% 41%

Unfortunately, after a brief decline, the percentage of deaths from long-term care facilities has begun to climb again.  The case increase is clearly from increased test positivity, as the number of newly tested people is roughly the same as four weeks ago, and substantially less than last week.

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 17, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths Including Suspected   13 13 14
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   13 12 13
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   9 8 10
Percent from Long-Term Care   67% 60% 73%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   369 287 270
Total Confirmed Cases   340 277 256

 

Categories
Methodology

Johns Hopkins Reporting Change: Tests and Positivity Rate

Some time in the past week, Johns Hopkins changed the way they report positivity rates for Massachusetts. (Since I don’t check the site every day, I’m not sure exactly when this occurred, but it did occur recently). Formerly, Johns Hopkins used a method that focused on individuals – taking total new cases (confirmed and suspected) and dividing that by the number of new individuals tested with a molecular test. They performed this calculation on a “reported day” basis – updating their numbers as new data is reported and adjusted by the Commonwealth. This is different than a calculation on a “as-of-date” basis, which looks at the date that the test is performed, not when it is reported. More on that later.

With the new method, Hopkins still uses total new cases (including suspected) as the numerator in the calculation. However, they are now using total molecular tests performed as the denominator. This has greatly reduced Hopkins’ calculated and reported positivity rate. As of September 14, Hopkins now shows a 7 day positivity rate of 0.74% in Massachusetts – 2,289 new cases divided by 310,742 molecular tests https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/region/us/massachusetts.

This is even lower than that reported by the Commonwealth (0.83%). Why is that? First, the state uses “as-of-date” calculations, looking back over the past seven days at the number of tests performed on each day for which results have been reported. This is 2,279 new confirmed cases divided by 275,565 molecular test results. Second, as just noted, the state only uses confirmed cases in the numerator (this lowers the positivity rate). Finally, the state lags the data one day. While 32,467 cases were reported on September 14th, there were only 20 tests performed on September 14 for which results had been reported in time to be included in the September 14th report – hence the state uses the 7 days ending September 13th for reporting positivity rates.

From Hopkins directly, summarizing their calculation (emphasis added). Note Hopkins’ preference for a measure based on individuals, not tests.

Positivity Rates: Our calculation, which is applied consistently across the site and predates most states’ test positivity tracking efforts, looks at number of cases divided by number of negative tests plus number of cases. We feel that the ideal way to calculate positivity would be number of people who test positive divided by number of people who are tested. We feel this is currently the best way to track positivity because some states include in their testing totals duplicative tests obtained in succession on the same individual, as well as unrelated antibody tests. However, many states are unable to track number of people tested, so they only track number of tests. Because states do not all publish number of positive and number of negative tests per day, we have no choice but to calculate positivity via our approach. We describe our methodology as well as our data source (COVID Tracking Project) clearly on the site.”

Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 14, 2020

The trailing 7 day positivity rate for individuals newly tested edged up once again to 2.2%, the highest rate since the middle of June. However, this rate has remained constant for the past three days, perhaps indicating that the increases since the end of August might be stalling out. The overall positivity rate based on testing remains steady at 0.8%, driven by repeat testers, very few of whom are testing positive. Only 30% of tests over the past 7 days were given to individuals who haven’t been tested before.

However, the large increase in the number of repeat testers over the past month is slowing down (the widespread college testing programs are probably up to speed).  The number of first time testers actually decreased from one week ago.

Table 1: Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 14, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.2% 1.9% 1.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.4% 1.9% 1.8%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.8% 0.9% 1.4%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.2% 1.9% 1.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.3% 0.9%
Percentage Repeat Testers   69.4% 59.4% 31.2%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   17,598 20,416 14,981
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   43,300 39,016 21,455

 

Hospitalization, case, and death statistics remain basically unchanged from a week or a month ago.  One encouraging sign may be a small drop in the number of intubated patients, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of patients in the ICU.

Table 2: Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Averages
September 14, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   328 319 389
Covid Patients in ICU   58 56 63
Covid Patients Intubed   22 26 29
New Confirmed Patients   18 21 19
         
Percent ICU / Hospitalized   18% 17% 16%
Percent Intubated / ICU   37% 46% 45%

I’ve added two new statistics to Table 3 so that confirmed cases and deaths can be separated from suspected cases and deaths.

Table 3: Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 14, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths Including Suspected   12 14 14
Total  Deaths Confirmed Only   12 14 13
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities (All Cases)   7 8 11
Percent from Long-Term Care   59% 56% 78%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   328 331 291
Total Confirmed Cases   299 323 277

Categories
College Testing

College and University Testing in Massachusetts – Part II

Well, I was a bit premature. Or, I missed the fact that Boston College’s positive tests were primarily occurring in the past several days. In any event, I’m updating the college tests results I posted two days ago with the latest figures, and I’m adding data on the most recent week of testing to more readily spot trends across the schools.

Table 1 shows the cumulative test results for twelve local colleges, plus UMass Amherst. I dropped UMass Boston from the table because it is doing extremely limited testing (under 400 tests to date), and provides little information. I added UMass Amherst in its place, primarily because of its size and importance in the state University system. Little has changed in these data from two days ago, other than that the positivity rate from BC is up a bit, reflecting the most recent spate of positive cases.

Table 1: Greater Boston Area College Covid Testing
Cumulative Testing Results
September 12,2020
           
  Initial         
  Results As Of Total Positive Positive
College/University Date Date Tests Tests Rate %
           
Babson 5-Aug 8-Sep 8,478 4 0.05%
Bentley 17-Aug 9-Sep 8,640 1 0.01%
Boston College 16-Aug 11-Sep 25,804 104 0.40%
Boston University 27-Jul 11-Sep 92,774 89 0.10%
Brandeis 12-Aug 11-Sep 20,103 6 0.03%
Emerson 6-Aug 9-Sep 11,180 11 0.10%
Harvard  1-Jun 11-Sep 39,331 36 0.09%
MIT 16-Aug 12-Sep 44,631 22 0.05%
Northeastern 17-Aug 10-Sep 83,620 48 0.06%
Suffolk 18-Sep 10-Sep 5,357 8 0.15%
Tufts 3-Aug 10-Sep 29,661 25 0.08%
UMass Amherst 6-Aug 11-Sep 35,384 14 0.04%
Wellesley 16-Aug 10-Sep 8,193 1 0.01%
           
Total     413,156 369 0.09%

 

Table 2 shows the results for the most recent week of testing, with the exception of BU, which is for the most recent day published. I’ve converted all the numbers to daily averages to make them comparable across schools. Here, the cluster of cases at Boston College more readily stands out, with a 7 day test postivity rate above 2% – higher than the statewide 0.8% average. None of the other colleges show any increase in positivity rates, and the aggregate rate remains extremely low.

Table 2: Greater Boston Area College Covid Testing
Latest Weekly Results
September 12,2020
         
  As Of Daily Positive Positive Test
College/University Date Tests Tests Percent
         
Babson 8-Sep 277 0 0.00%
Bentley 9-Sep 457 0 0.00%
Boston College 11-Sep 422 10 2.27%
Boston University 11-Sep 5,409 2 0.04%
Brandeis 11-Sep 611 0 0.00%
Emerson 9-Sep 463 0 0.03%
Harvard  11-Sep 1,415 1 0.08%
MIT 12-Sep 1,956 1 0.04%
Northeastern 10-Sep 5,874 4 0.06%
Suffolk 10-Sep 451 1 0.16%
Tufts 10-Sep 1,636 1 0.09%
UMass Amherst 11-Sep 1,456 0 0.01%
Wellesley 11-Sep 458 0 0.00%
         
Total   20,886 20 0.09%

 

Are all the test results for the schools being reported to the state and included in the state dashboard figures? It is difficult to tell. Over the past seven days, the state has reported slightly more than 44,000 tests per day on average.  If all the results in Table 2 were reported to the state, this implies that these thirteen colleges account for almost half the reported testing statewide. They probably do account for the bulk of the college testing in Massachusetts (I believe that the remaining colleges are either doing limited testing or are relatively small).

However, for the week ending August 15th before most of these college testing programs had begun to ramp up , the Commonwealth reported about 24,000 tests per day, of which 7,500 were for repeat testers.   This would mean that almost all the testing increase since mid-August has come from these colleges (or testing for the non-college-affliated population has dropped off).  This isn’t likely, but it seems highly likely that many of the colleges on the list are reporting to the state.  If so, they are partly driving the increasing testing totals and decreasing positivity rates among repeat testers.

Categories
College Testing

College and University Testing in Massachusetts

Stories about Covid-19 outbreaks at colleges and universities have been a big part of the Covid story for the past several weeks.   Large outbreaks have been reported at the University of North Carolina, the University of Georgia, and the University of Wisconsin, among others.

Closer to home, there was widespread apprehension in greater Boston in mid-to-late August and early September about the annual influx of college students to the area. Northeastern University made national headlines when it dismissed 11 students for violating the University’s protocols for large gatherings (and refused to refund their tuition!)  In recent days, Boston College shut down its swimming programs for a minimum of two weeks after an outbreak among members of the  teams.

It seems ominous.  But the reality of Covid-19 at Boston-area colleges and universities is  quite different.  Most colleges in the area have embarked on widespread testing programs in order to catch Covid outbreaks in the early stages and limit their spread. 

The table below summarizes the publicly available testing results from many colleges in the Boston area.  These figures combine test results for students, faculty, and staff.  These early test results are extremely encouraging, with an overall test positivity rate of less then one-tenth of one percent.  Even Boston College, which garnered the recent bad press, has a test positivity rate of only 0.35% (the worst of the pack), well under the rate in the state as a whole.

Interestingly, Brandeis University also published that 4,076 individuals had been tested through September 10th (none of the other schools make that information readily available), meaning that each person tested had been tested an average of 4.6 times.    It is unclear whether the other colleges have testing programs as robust as the one at Brandeis, but it likely is near the top of the pack with repeat testing.

Greater Boston Area College Covid Testing
September 11,2020
           
  Starting As Of Total Positive  Positive
College/University Date Date Tests Tests Test (%)
           
Babson 5-Aug 8-Sep 8,478 4 0.05%
Bentley 17-Aug 8-Sep 7,610 1 0.01%
Boston College 16-Aug 9-Sep 23,850 83 0.35%
Boston University 27-Jul 9-Sep 82,917 86 0.10%
Brandeis 12-Aug 10-Sep 18,846 6 0.03%
Emerson 6-Aug 8-Sep 10,395 11 0.11%
Harvard  1-Jun 9-Sep 35,885 31 0.09%
MIT 16-Aug 10-Sep 42,153 22 0.05%
Northeastern 17-Aug 8-Sep 72,819 41 0.06%
Suffolk 18-Sep 9-Sep 4,905 8 0.16%
Tufts 3-Aug 8-Sep 25,305 24 0.09%
UMass Boston N/A 6-Sep 338 0 0.00%
Wellesley 16-Aug 9-Sep 7,687 1 0.01%
           
Total     341,188 318 0.09%

Most of these testing programs have been performed in conjunction with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.  The Broad is partnering with over 100 colleges and universities, mostly in the Northeast, to oversee testing. On its website the Broad indicates affiliations with all of the schools above, except BU and UMass Boston.

As an aside, the Broad is a testing machine – it has performed over 1.5 million tests to date, primarily in Massachusetts, with current daily volumes often exceeding 60,000 tests, and test turnaround under 24 hours.  Currently, it processes almost 5% of the tests nationwide.

Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 10, 2020

Testing positivity rates continue to gradually increase, with a 7 day trailing average rate of 2.0%, the highest rate since early August. Once again, this is at odds with the headline positivity rate of 0.8% announced by the state. Tests of people previously tested are now over almost two-thirds of all tests, and these repeat testers have a positivity rate of only 0.2%, the lowest on record.

Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 10, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   2.0% 1.6% 1.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   2.1% 1.7% 1.8%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.8% 0.9% 1.5%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   2.0% 1.6% 1.7%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.2% 0.3% 1.0%
Percentage Repeat Testers   66.4% 53.0% 30.8%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   19,735 19,520 14,493
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   42,015 34,815 20,766

Hospitalization statistics are stagnant, although there are slightly fewer patients in the ICU or intubated compared to four weeks ago.  Unfortunately, the number of patients hospitalized has increased for four consecutive days.  Since the last data update, I’ve converted the hospital measures from current day only to a 7 day trailing average, consistent with the other tables presented here. I’ve also added two additional measures: the percentage of hospitalized patients in the ICU, and the percentage of patients in the ICU who are intubed, in order to track whether these measures change through time as treatment protocols change.

Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
7 Day Trailing Averages
September 10, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   330 309 392
Covid Patients in ICU   53 59 65
Covid Patients Intubed   23 26 29
         
7-Day Trailing Average New Confirmed Patients 21 19 20
 Percent ICU / Hospitalized   16% 19% 16%
 Percent Intubated / ICU   43% 45% 45%

 

There appears to be a small dip in the number of reported cases. It’s likely this is an artifact of the Labor Day holiday, as the number of new cases reported today (including 40 new suspected cases) was over 400. The number of new individuals tested did decline over the weekend, so that may be the main driver of the reduced case numbers, as positivity rates are up somewhat.

One technical note: going forward there will be small differences in the case numbers I report, and those reported by data aggregators. This is because the state continues to change the number of suspected cases of Covid historically. For example, on September 9, the state reported 182 confirmed cases of Covid, and no suspected cases, yet reduced the cumulative number of suspected cases by one. Since there is no information on when this suspected case occurred, I treat this as a day in which there were 182 suspected and confirmed cases. In contrast the data aggregators such as https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ reported 181 confirmed and suspected cases yesterday. Not a big deal, at least given the current low number of revisions, but something to point out.

Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 10, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths   13 14 14
Deaths in Long-Term Facilities   8 7 11
Percent from Long-Term Care   60% 55% 81%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   287 353 364
Categories
Data Update

Massachusetts Data Update September 6, 2020

Test positivity rates in Massachusetts are creeping upward slightly, hitting 1.8% on September 6, after being at a pandemic low rate of 1.5% for about a week. Is this the start of a trend? It is too early to tell, as there was a similar increase in positive rates at the end of July that petered out. In contrast, the headline positivity rate reported by the Commonwealth remains at its pandemic low of 0.9%. Why the disconnect? Repeat testers. The positivity rate for repeat testers is 0.3%, and they now represent almost 60% of all recent tests, up from 30% four weeks ago. Almost all of the recent increase in testing in the state is from repeat testers.

Two technical notes. First, I’ve updated the positivity rate that includes suspected cases to reflect the large drop in suspected cases that the state reported on September 3, when it eliminated over 8,000 cases from cumulative totals. Because there are so many fewer suspected cases in the historical data, the difference between the baseline individual positivity rate and the suspected case rate is smaller than previously.

Second, the state continues to eliminate suspected cases (and deaths) from the record, but no longer is reporting the back history with which to identify when these suspected cases were removed. The numbers of new dropped cases is quite small so far, but this makes some of the case reporting slightly problematic.

Massachusetts Testing Statistics
7 Day Trailing Average
September 6, 2020
         
Testing Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Test Positivity Rate (Individuals)   1.8% 1.5% 1.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Include Suspected)   1.8% 1.7% 2.0%
         
Test Positivity Rate (All Tests)   0.9% 1.0% 1.6%
Test Positivity Rate (Newly Tested)   1.8% 1.5% 1.9%
Test Positivity Rate (Repeat Testers)   0.3% 0.4% 1.0%
Percentage Repeat Testers   59.0% 47.5% 29.9%
         
Newly Tested (Lagged 1 Week)   20,005 19,361 13,916
All Tests (Lagged 1 Week)   38,107 30,057 19,674

Hospitalizations remain in equilibrium, with little change over the past week or month.  One note: based on the analysis in yesterday’s post https://www.masscoronavirus.net/the-massachusetts-hospitalization-puzzle I am now using the new confirmed patients reported by hospitals to track admissions.

Massachusetts Hospitalization Statistics
September 6, 2020
         
Hospitalization Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Covid Patients Hospitalized   312 290 375
Covid Patients in ICU   52 62 60
Covid Patients Intubed   22 25 26
       
7-Day Trailing Average New Confirmed Patients 19 18 22

Case and death figures remain basically unchanged, with one exception.  The percentage of deaths in long-term care facilities has dropped somewhat in the past week or month.  Is Massachusetts beginning to get this under control?   Let’s hope so.

Massachusetts Reported Case and Death Statistics
7 Day  Trailing Average
September 6, 2020
         
Statistic   Current 7 Days Ago 4 Weeks Ago
         
Total Deaths   15 16 14
Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities   8 10 10
Percent from Long-Term Care   57% 64% 73%
         
Total Cases Including Suspected   342 359 369
Categories
Other

The Massachusetts Hospitalization Puzzle

For everyone dealing with the coronavirus, there is both a societal and personal calculation. The societal calculation revolves around the enormous global and national costs of the pandemic – the staggering number of illnesses, hospitalization, and deaths, as well as the economic toll – massive unemployment, shuttered businesses, and food insecurity.

But there is a personal calculation with which most people wrestle. How likely am I or the people close to me to get sick; and if they get sick, how sick will they be? What are the odds that they will be hospitalized, or obviously even worse, how likely are they to die? This calculation clearly is highly dependent on personal circumstance – age, type of work, underlying health conditions, etc. But a starting point for understanding this is the number of people hospitalized from the coronavirus. (Obviously, this is an incomplete measure of severe illness, as many ill people in long-term care are never hospitalized regardless of how severely ill they become). And here, the available information in Massachusetts is confusing.

The Commonwealth has published a running total of the number of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases, total hospitalizations, and total deaths through time. (According to the Dashboard, this information comes from the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences). However, when the state changed the definition of probable cases earlier this month, they restated the cumulative number of hospitalizations without providing the details of the historical revisions – unlike what they did for cases and deaths. The number of confirmed and suspected hospitalizations dropped from 13,386 on September 1 to 13,295 the next day.

Fortunately, there is another source of hospitalization data – that provided by hospitals themselves and submitted to the state Department of Public Heath and federal government. Hospitals report both the number of patients currently hospitalized for Covid, and the number of new hospitalizations. Unfortunately, these data on new hospitalizations do not track the data collected by the state – in fact, the number of new probable case hospitalizations reported don’t make much sense if taken at face value.

For the week ending September 3, hospitals in Massachusetts reported an average of 312 patients hospitalized with Covid, an average of 19 new confirmed case admissions, and an average of 126 suspected case admissions, for a total of 145 new admissions. These statistics do not square with what we know about the hospital stays of Covid patients. Since the only way patients leave the hospital is if they are discharged or die, this would imply an average hospital stay of roughly two days, much shorter than what one would expect.

It is unclear exactly what these suspected hospital admissions are tracking, but the definition seems overly broad. According to the dashboard, these suspected cases “are those with symptoms who have not had a test result yet”. Perhaps many of these originally suspected cases turn out to not be Covid patients at all, or there is something else not transparent about this reporting.

However, the number of confirmed hospital admissions does closely track the number of newly hospitalized cases reported by the state up to the point at which the probable case definition was changed, as shown below. Both figures also reinforce the idea that the state has been in rough equilibrium for about the past five or six weeks (this is true for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths), with relatively low case and hospitalization rates.