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D.C. broke a terrible record over the weekend. On Saturday, DC Health reported 392 COVID-19 infections, the highest number of new cases the city has seen in a single day throughout the pandemic. 

Is D.C. beginning to see the effects of Thanksgiving gatherings? DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said Thanksgiving is in part to blame for the recent rise in new cases. “Individuals are reporting some activities related to Thanksgiving holiday,” she said when asked about contact tracing interviews. (Notably, the mayor only asked families to stay home three days before the holidays, although they released guidance a month before.)

The city had just broken a record set in the spring, when Mayor Muriel Bowser had the city under a stay-at-home order to flatten the curve. On Nov. 28, DC Health reported 371 cases, the most daily new cases since May 1. Virginia also reported its highest number of daily cases on Saturday, with 6,985 new infections.  

D.C.’s daily reported cases are lower than most of the country’s. According to a Post analysis, D.C.’s seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents is 37, as of Monday morning, while the country’s rate overall is 60. Just a few states, including neighboring Virginia, have a daily case rate that is lower than that of D.C.    

Still, D.C. is breaking its own records set at the previous height of the pandemic. DC Health reports that the daily case rate is the highest it’s ever been. Hospitalizations follow a rapid climb in new cases. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is rising, although nowhere near the number in spring: 

Another concerning trend comes from Ryan Stahlin, a data scientist who analyzes DC Health’s granular data and publishes it on a website called dccovid.com that he developed with a friend, Noah Marcus. His analysis of coronavirus data by ward shows Ward 7 having the most new cases and least number of tests per 10,000 people in recent weeks. (He caveats that he is using 2018 census data, the most recent public data available, and DC Health releases “unknown ward” data in addition to all eight wards.) Ward 7, a majority-Black ward, has been hit hard by the pandemic. The ward, along with Wards 8 and 5, has seen the most deaths related to COVID-19. It is no secret that Black people have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and some of that is attributed to the historical lack of access to health care.   

“I’m a huge believer in the saying that data is useless unless you can explain it clearly,” Stahlin tells City Paper, “and so I’m hoping my website helps people see, understand, and interact with the huge amount of info that gets released every day.” With the exception of metrics it tracks, DC Health publishes cumulative totals rather than daily changes. Interested in learning more about how Stahlin’s project? Click HERE.  


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