Serial Map Display of Spread of Covid-19 Across Kentucky.

I should be no surprise to readers that Covid-19 has entered a new and rapidly expanding phase of its presence in Kentucky. It is no longer (and never has been) solely a threat to the larger urban centers of the Commonwealth. Lack of a national strategy, conflicting advice, and poor example from some political leaders has made matters much worse than they had to be. I have been updating KHPI’s Covid-19 tracking page daily and will close out the past week of new record highs with additional commentary Saturday evening.

Watch Covid-19 spread ‘live.’
I want to take this occasion to augment yesterday’s offering to test a newly learned capability of the Tableau software I have been using for its powerful database, statistical, and data visualization capabilities. Using the New York Times Covid-19 County Database, I previously offered static maps that displayed the aggregate number of cases and deaths in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties at a single point in time.

What I have now been able to do is assemble a “filmstrip” of daily maps with a map for each of the 216 days since Covid-19 was first recognized in the state. The result is posted on the KHPI Tableau Public website. Using the date slider control in the panel on the right, the viewer can select any date interactively. There are also buttons (Back-Stop-Forward) to automatically transition one way or the other, but unfortunately on this browser-based platform, the rate of change is rather slow. (The image below is for illustration purposes only. Not a link.)

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Where Have Kentucky’s Covid-19 Cases Been Coming From?

Short Answer: From every single county and at similar rates!

From the first recognized case of Covid-19 disease in Kentucky on March 6 in Fayette County, our epidemic was most easily recognized in larger population centers where there were both more people and access. However, as early as April 1st, 69 of Kentucky’s 120 counties had at least 1 diagnosed case among its people. Only in 35 of those counties were there more than 2 cases. Only in 11 counties were there more than 10 cases. In one short month later on May 1st, there were only 6 counties without a recognized and reported case! By June 2d, only tiny Robertson County was officially reported as free of the disease. By July 1st, the disease was recognized in every county. The last holdouts were centered in the central/eastern part of the state. Of course, just as is true today, unrecognized cases of Covid-19 infection walked among us well before their presence was documented with a specific lab test.

The reader is invited to interactively explore for themself the tables, graphs, and maps that serve as the source of the material presented below. Filters in some of the visualizations allow the user to select a specific county, date, or range of dates to view the data. I will continue to tinker with and add additional visualizations in the online version.

Epidemiology curves display the spread graphically.
The first graph below depicts the total number of “cases” as of a given date for the Commonwealth as a whole. From numbers too small to show up on the plot, total cases rose at a very gradually increasing rate until an inflection point around the July 4th holiday when counts took off at a rate that shows no sign of stabilizing. Indeed, the rate may well be at a new and steeper inflection point as I write this. (See the footnote at the end regarding to the definitions of “Case”)

Cumulative case totals for all 120 KY Counties as of 10/3/20.
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New Covid-19 Cases Last Week Set New High Numbers for KY.

A blip, or an accelerated new trend?

Last week’s count of Confirmed New Cases of Covid-19 gave us new highs for both a single day and the week– and by no small measures. On Saturday, 1274 confirmed new cases were added to Kentucky’s total. The total for the week (Sunday to Saturday) was greater than 1000 new cases higher than the previous week–which was itself a record high. Monthly new cases continue to rise at a similar pace.

Daily new Confirmed Cases of Covid-19 in KY as of 10-3-20.
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End-of-Week Kentucky Covid-19 Update: Cases Accumulating at Similar High Rate.

New Cases.
The number of new confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection during the week ending September 26, 2020 reached a new high of 4930– presumably unique– individuals. The number of new cases reported to the public continues to vary dramatically day-to-day, but so far, September has given us more days with counts exceeding 800 than all of August (7 vs. 3). The 7- and 14-day rolling averages of new daily cases continue to rise, albeit a little more slowly than since June 1. This likely reflects the success of the degree of adherence to public health measures that Kentucky Citizens have been willing or able to muster. However, with recent 7-day averages ranging between 600 and 700 cases, the aggregate number of cases adds up meaningfully. A simplified plot of Total Cases on the first day of each month since March shows an unrelenting and relatively constant accumulation of cases in which new cases in non-urban counties and in younger people make up higher relative contributions.

Total Covid-19 cases on the first of each month since onset of epidemic. Note that the count for September is still incomplete.
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