At first glance, Monday’s COVID-19 updates look like an increase of 550 new cases over a 24-hour period, but the numbers are misleading because the Virginia Department of Health no longer reports daily increases on weekends.
In reality, the increase since the last VDH report issued Friday of last week, which included numbers from the totals at 5 p.m. on Thursday, was 1,883 new cases when the new report came out Monday morning.
Even worse, we saw new deaths in several areas of Southwestern Virginia, including five in Pulaski County and one each in Radford and Giles County.
“There are three kinds of lies,” Mark Twain wrote. “Lies, damn lies and statistics.”
The statewide report from VDH Monday lists six new deaths, but we have seven in our area. Seems another locality in the state dropped his death total by one over the weekend.
When one examines Monday’s data from VDH, alarm bills sound. Nearly 2,000 new cases in Virginia over the weekend. Sounds about right, since daily cases now total 500-700.
After declines in unemployment numbers in recent weeks, more than 400,000 applied for jobless benefits last week, an increase that caught economists by surprise.
“The unexpected bump in claims could be noise in the system, but it’s also not hard to see how the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant could add thousands of layoffs to numbers that already are double what they were pre-COVID,” Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, told one newspaper on Friday.
In Texas, where COVID-19 cases rose 54 percent last week, unemployment claims increased by 10,000 claims.
The delta variant is driving an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases around the country, according to public health officials. The number of new cases increased more than 40 percent in the past week, sending jitters through the stock market, and is raising questions about whether state and local health authorities will reinstitute restrictions to slow the virus’s spread.
Local governments in areas where COVID-19 cases are going back up are imposing, or considering, new mask mandates.
There’s definitely a correlation, however loose, that the rise in Covid does cause a rise in claims. My fear is that the rise in the delta variant could cause claims to go back up. … Certainly, one week doesn’t show that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see claims rise.
As our area, where communities are struggling to try and return to normal, the worries are compounded by what appears to many to be an attempt by VDH and other agencies to hide a problem that is growing worse.
“We must not shift back into complacency,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
“The name of the game would be to try and restrict spillovers to outbreaks,” says Dr. Dennis Burton, a vaccine researcher and chairman of the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research Institute.
It also might help to let people know that COVID-19 is not over and those who ignore warnings or fail to get vaccinated, fully, are adding to the problem.