Post #1275: William and Mary, net of two new COVID-19 cases this past week.

Posted on October 1, 2021

Source:  Calculated from William and Mary COVID-19 dashboard.

The only oddity is that the total cumulative positives fell today.  That can happen due to (e.g.) a prior clerical error (such as counting the same student twice, then discovering that.)  Happens all the time in the state-reported COVID-19 counts.  So there might really have been three new cases, plus correction of a long-standing clerical error.  It’s tough to say, but not a lot of difference either way.

It’s not clear that it’s worthwhile to continue to track this.  Students are 98% vaccinated.  New cases are nearly zero.  Guess I’ll watch it for another week or two.

I guess people may now going to start questioning the continuing mask requirements.  And that may not be unreasonable.

But I’m not questioning them.  To understand my position, consider reading my post on how vaccinations work (Post #1200).  It’s a little ham-handed, in response to an outbreak at a big festival in Massachusetts.  But the main message is right.  Everything that cuts down on exposure to COVID-19 viral particles counts toward keeping new cases down.

So, I’m vaccinated and I wear an N95 mask in public spaces.

We can reasonably infer from the current situation that the combined effect of high vaccination rate and good COVID-19 hygiene has all but suppressed COVID-19 in this population.  Both factors contribute.

We cannot infer that vaccination alone will do it.  We don’t have that evidence.  We literally cannot predict how the rate of COVID-19 spread would change if we removed the “COVID-19 hygiene” portion of the current setup.

It’s the same logic behind “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

In my non-W&M posts, I’ve said repeatedly that I think we’re going to have a winter wave of COVID this year.  Best guess, it’ll be at least as bad as last year, based on the tradeoff between the higher infectiousness of the Delta variant, and the higher fraction of the population with some immunity to COVID-19.

As a nation, we’re in the situation depicted below.  The blue line is the first year of the pandemic, the red line is the second year.  Where it stops, that’s where we are right now.

I’m thrilled to see those low numbers on the William and Mary campus.  But I think it’s way too soon to declare victory.