Coronavirus: Washington DC Fumbles, Washington State Scores

February 28th of this year, Washington state became the first in the U.S. to record a death due to coronovirus.

As of today the nationwide death toll is over 6,000. I’ve been looking at the total fatalities by state, for the U.S. states with the highest death counts (so far). Here are the totals over time for states with at least 100 fatalities to date (note this is plotted on a logarithmic scale):

One of these states is not like the others: Washington state. Although it was first to record a death, the rate of growth of the death count has been consistently low from the outset, lower than the other states. The result is that even though the epidemic has been progressing for a longer time in Washington, it hasn’t gotten as far or taken so many lives.

I estimated the rate of growth of the death toll for each of the 16 states with at least 50 fatalities to date, since their death toll crossed a minimum value of 10. Here are the rates:

One of these states is not like the others. Washington state.

I don’t know how Washington state is keeping their death rates so low, but I congratulate them and their Governor, Jay Inslee.

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22 responses to “Coronavirus: Washington DC Fumbles, Washington State Scores

  1. Quite right. Jay Inslee has done a very good job for Washington State. I think a very big action was his fast decision to close schools. He led the way. Well done, Jay.

  2. If you add up the DC area, the number of confirmed cases is growing very quickly.

  3. Greg Wellman

    Greetings from Kirkland, WA.
    Yes, Inslee has done a good job and closing schools was part of it. It’s also true that the big tech employers (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc.) in the area switched to work-from-home quite early, which presumably also contributed.
    But neither of those explain why the virus hasn’t taken off in Seattle’s significant homeless population. The city, couny and/or state must be doing something right there, too.

  4. Thanks for this insight. Good to know; Inslee was my pick for Pres, until it became evident that his campaign just wasn’t getting traction. Another exemplar of the fact that campaigning doesn’t generally favor those whose strengths are more executive than inspirational.

  5. There is some good news on the testing front, which I thought I’d tuck in here. As a recent article in Science highlighted, antigen tests for the presence of SARS-CoV from 2002 appear to have some efficacy to detect SARS-CoV-2. That’s neat, because tests for SARS-CoV were developed and scaled up for production back in 2002-2003 in response. But it died off, so they went nowhere.

    Now with SARS-CoV-2, because the spike proteins are shared, and because there is very little or no SARS-CoV in the population, a test that looked for the latter, if it got a hit, would be detecting SARS-CoV-2. These are blood tests and results are available on the spot.


    M. Yuan et al., Science 10.1126/science.abb7269 (2020).

  6. All of the west coast states are doing quite well. Could their populations have been exposed early on through high traffic flow back and forth with China in a manner that somehow inocculated the population to a degree?

    [Response: No.]

    • Social distancing and isolation work in much the same way as herd immunity. A virus will not thrive if it cannot find new hosts in which to replicate.

      On March 12 to 14, roughly, Trump’s order sent Americans scurrying home from Europe, where the outbreak was fully underway. They were packed together in airports in Europe, then on the airplanes, and then for several hours in 13 international terminals here in the states.

      “those who do fly from the European countries will be forced to land at the following 13 airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York; Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois; San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington; Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii; Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia; Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia; Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas; Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan; Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts; and Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida.’

      On March 14 there were 2,770 total confirmed cases; on March 28: 123,578, and today, 394,578.

      Doubtful that is a coincidence.

      • @JCH,


        And, to the people in the country who are China-bashers, they need to understand that the Republican administration’s ban on China travel was very porous. If you had business in China, related to “essential services”, you could travel back and forth. Between 40,000 and a couple of hundred thousand such travels were documented.

    • Or how about the fact that an early death made people more aware of the seriousness? In British Columbia, Canada, we got Covid19 in some care homes early on (exacerbated by a healthcare system that encouraged low wage earners in these homes to have part time jobs at multiple facilities) and this killed a lot of people. The fact that these deaths occurred before spring break may have changed how a lot of people spent that week. In fact, the relatively late spring break is hypothesized to have spared us Quebec’s tragic trajectory. On the other hand, Vancouver and Seattle share much of the same weather, as do Montreal and New York? And on the other, other hand, much of our population is used to wearing face masks to reduce disease spread. Not sure about Seattle.

  7. I will report from a country in EU, which missed the best measures for a week or two, but implemented them in this timeframe (this is also a time which majority of people needed to get serious about situation and do some necessary adaptations). We have schools and daycare units closed for about 3 weeks, also, only food stores and stores with farming equipment are open, a lot of companies are closed and whenever it is possible, we use telecommuting to do our jobs. The unnecessary travel is limited to you own municipality and gatherings are not allowed. If you visit store, distancing is enhanced. Even car registrations are postponed. The result: Before measures, we had about 20% daily growth of new cases. After 3 weeks, the number of new cases per day remains constant or is slightly negative (but no statistical significant trend there).
    Will the measures be enough to limit the epidemic or not remains to be seen, as some measures cannot be prolonged without serious harm to people’s lives. I also hope that the measures won’t be relaxed too soon as that will result in prolongation of them afterwards.

  8. Thanks for your work explaining this topic to people. You’ve previously debunked trash from Willis Eschenbach of the denialist blog WattsUpWiththat. For instance:

    Willis has just said more nonsense closer to my own field of expertise (I’m an immunologist):

    “I’ve been following the many changes in the IHME coronavirus model used by our very own most incompetent Dr. Fauci.

    So Willis, the “carpenter and house builder” with a B.A. in psychology, a certificate in massaging ( ), and no competency in immunology / infectious disease / epidemiology, thinks it’s OK to illegitimately undermine public confidence in one of the world’s leading experts in this topic. And he does this in a middle of a crisis, where said expert needs to inform the public in order to save lives.

    I almost cannot put into words how much contempt I have for Willis right now. The world would be better off if he just kept quiet. This is what happens when we let a bunch of willfully ignorant, politically-motivated, denialist incompetents gain a large public profile unchecked: they eventually infect other fields of science, to the detriment of society.

    • One last point (sorry for forgetting to add this to my original comment):

      Willis is also trying to undermine the recommended (and enforced) social distancing + closing down of events, even though this saved lives. And, of course, he does that while unfairly mocking Fauci:

      “I see that the genius medical experts who recommended the ineffective drastic lockdown are now thinking about recommending that Americans wear masks. The headline in Politico says “Fauci: Mask-wearing recommendation under ‘very serious consideration’” … under consideration?? They’ve destroyed the American economy without looking back, but a simple recommendation to wear a mask in public requires “very serious consideration”?
      Sigh …”

      • Wilis is an asshole of the first water–well, maybe second water. There’s a real pettiness about him, in addition to his other manifold faults.

  9. Willis’ latest tale of the South Pacific presents a clear and present danger to people who believe what they readin Watts.Up With That?

    He suggests nine 500 mg chloroquine tablets a day for three days as a sure cure for malaria, and recommends taking a chloroquine-azithromycin-zinc cocktail at the first sign of coronavirus symptoms, real or imagined.

    The trouble is that the dose he recommends – 13.5 grams in 72 hours, seems well calculated to kill patients weighing under 100 kilos.: