In the last four consecutive days, the state of Washington reported a double-digit number of COVID-19 deaths for the first time since May: 11 more deaths were confirmed by the end of Sunday, 14 on Monday, 10 on Tuesday and 15 on Wednesday.
These obvious peaks can be alarming, but public health experts say that daily numbers don’t paint much of a picture for themselves.
It is more informative to observe moving averages over a longer period of time ̵
“It really tells you when these people first got sick and whether we see some kind of increase in activity,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, the Washington State health officer. “And I still don’t see a big surge in our epidemiological curve for a date or time frame.”
When looking at COVID-19 cases or deaths, look for the line that runs across the vertical bars. Each point on this line represents the average daily number over the past 14 days.
These moving averages of the daily diagnoses and deaths give a more accurate picture of how the virus spreads and how deadly it has become, without our perception getting messed up here or there by a day if the number was particularly high or low.
In the past two weeks, Washington has reported an average of eight deaths per day. At its peak in early April, this average fluctuated between 20 and 25 deaths per day. It has ticked no more than 10 since May.
On Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. 1,409 people in Washington died from COVID-19, which is 3.7% of the 38,581 confirmed cases in the state.