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A pandemic on the rise: Charts reveal how virus has spread at different rates in two counties

Original post made on Mar 30, 2020

Through a series of charts, track how the coronavirus has infected and killed people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which have a combined total of over 1,150 confirmed cases as of Monday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 30, 2020, 6:05 PM

Comments (46)

Posted by Alex
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2020 at 11:59 pm

Santa Clara County population is much larger than San Mateo County.


Posted by Agree
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:44 am

Santa Clara County: 1,933,383
San Mateo County: 768,808

This is how all the numbers are skewed in the media, they don't show the populations of the countries.


Posted by social distancing
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:21 am

Cell phone data revealed a slightly greater decrease in social distancing (63% vs 61%) in San Mateo County than in Santa Clara County following the shelter-in-place order, which may have contributed to the slower increase in cases. San Mateo County also includes a number of cities (Hillsborough, Atherton, Portola) with well-spaced SFHs, whereas Santa Clara Country includes communities with denser, multi-family complexes.


Posted by Kinsa Health data
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:39 am

Based on the Kinsa Health data, the number of atypical fevers (which correlates with covid-19 infection) are decreasing in Santa Clara County, but still higher than almost any other county in CA: https://healthweather.us


Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2020 at 7:51 am

Agreed. The press needs to report trends in metrics that are more accurate and meaningful. Data out relevant context can mislead.
Based on the data, it appears that San Mateo County actually has a slightly higher illness rate and, based on their later start, Sam Mateo County’s increase occurred in a shorter period of time than Santa Clara County. The rates need to be per capital based.
Also, the article accurately states that Santa Clara County has a quarter of all Bay Area cases, but omits that the county has a quarter of the Bay Area population.
These clarifications are for factual accuracy and not to imply any diminishing of the crisis. Weekly, please update the article to correct its misleading implications.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:08 am

If you want to show growth rates, the vertical axis should be a logarithmic scale. Basic math.


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:37 am

There are many variables that contribute to the spread of a virus.

Things like international travel, population density, household density, cultural greetings contact (i.e., cheek kissing, handshakes, rate of actual testing confirmation, etc.), etc. contribute more than simple comparisons of population.

Still, an overall number is different from the overall RATE.

As @Alex and @Agree pointed out:
The population of Santa Clara County is much larger. In fact, Santa Clara County's population is 186% larger than San Mateo County. Santa Clara County's population is 1,933,383 while San Mateo County's population is 768,808. The population density of Santa Clara is also higher (~1400 v. ~970 per sq mile).

The rate of infection in Santa Clara is roughly 193.1% higher (848 v. 309). That is very close to the population difference. However, if you factor in the density, it more than explains the slightly higher difference in the rate of COVID-19 diagnoses.


Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:42 am

Dark line? Bright line? They both look about the same darkness and brightness to me on my color monitor.

Also, the content of these graphs, as described by other posters, is misleading.

Please revise the whole article and graph. It's a mess!


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:45 am

The shape of the curve is independent of the different population sizes.

San Mateo sheltered in place before Santa Clara - that MAY be a factor in the different shapes of the curves.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2020 at 11:12 am

The daily politicians and doctors cable network reports keep telling us we’ll get thru this. Not true...some/most will, but some/many won’t!


Posted by Joni S
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2020 at 11:34 am

California continues to show a huge number of pending tests. We only have results for 29k tests and are still waiting for results for an additional 54k. For a state that boast such a large economy and the home to many Pharma and Bio tech companies you think we would be able to get results for test faster than 2 weeks. By the time some people get a positive result they may already be rid of the virus. I really don't know what is going on and when and if they clean up the back log what will that do the curve?? Suddenly we see a huge increase when in reality we are seeing results from a week ago??


Posted by concerned
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:01 pm

I think the SC county needs to be much more transparent about the cases and deaths that are occurring here. Where are they concentrated? What is the age/health profile of the victims who are succumbing to this disease? We all need to be practicing social distancing and the other tips that have been disseminated to slow/halt the spread, but the county is a big place, and I for one, would like to know if our cases are concentrated in certain areas, or not. I understand the need for patient privacy, but I don't see how listing city names, ages, and preexisting medical conditions reveals anything about a particular victim. My deepest sympathies to all who are suffering or who have lost a loved one.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park

>> The shape of the curve is independent of the different population sizes.

The bottom chart on this page: Web Link and set to "Log Scale" is the most useful to me. Normalized by population, and, you can visually compare the slope directly. Now, if they could get caught up with the testing in California (and, everywhere ... )


Posted by Puffin
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:13 pm

@Concerned: Why do you want that information? It shouldn't change the way you act to prevent the spread and keep yourself safe.


Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:16 pm

The stat not being reported on a daily basis according to one Stanford epidemiologist is the number being hospitalized. Many testing positive are sent home to ride out the symptoms because they are not severe. Most being hospitalized are elderly with pre-existing issues and many of them are recovering also.

@ Gale Johnson...we get through the flu every year. We will get through this as well. Like the flu,most will survive and some won't. The numbers currently indicate that this may not be as fatal as annual flu numbers. Time will tell on that stat.


Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Posted by What Will They Do Next, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> @ Gale Johnson...we get through the flu every year. We will get through this as well. Like the flu,most will survive and some won't. The numbers currently indicate that this may not be as fatal as annual flu numbers. Time will tell on that stat.

Looks to me like the COVID-19 death rate is far, far, far higher than the flu: Web Link

This is something that we all MUST take seriously.

What data are you looking at?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:36 pm

First, Geezus!, who makes a graph with such random increments?

Santa Clara's population is greater than San Mateo's.
Specifically 1.9 million compared to 0.8 million, or over twice as large. 2.4 times actually.
But the cares in Santa Clara, roughly 850 compared to the roughly 300 cases in San Mateo is 2.8,
significantly greater than the population difference. As mentioned though this may just be a time
lag.

>> Cell phone data revealed a slightly greater decrease in social distancing (63% vs 61%) in San Mateo County than in Santa Clara County following the shelter-in-place order

What does this mean? Sounds to me like a "slight greater decrease in social distancing" would
mean an increase in cases if anything. Infections as a function of social distancing would be an
inverse relation, no?

In any care I'm skeptical that small difference in difference measured by cellphone would be significant.

It is clear we need a lot more data about the where people are picking this up, the circumstances,
the initial conditions of the patients, general health relative to fatalities, etc. For instance the
NYT prints daily stats on coronavirus and even lists large events where people got the virus.
Can we generalize and track back places, businesses or activities that raise the risk of infection?

What really makes me anxious is there are some supposed doctors that are claiming people
who are well still have viral load, and may be contagious. Also there are reports or people
relapsing, or more rare reports of people getting the disease twice.

There is a lot of talk about respirators, but a man on the cruise ship who was being treated
in Japan, had experienced situations of people on respirators before said that respirators
were a last resort and he wanted to do everything possible to stay off a respirator and refused
to be put on one because the prognosis once on a respirator was poor. Instead he used
some kind of deep breathing technique to try to clear his lungs. He has survived.

Also respirators need skilled technicians to utilize which we are apparently short off.

Is health care data privacy working against being able to report on the gender, ages,
conditions and other factors that may influence the progression of this disease, and if so
is there a way to work around that in order to better inform the public as to who is at risk?


Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park

>> Is health care data privacy working against being able to report on the gender, ages,
conditions and other factors that may influence the progression of this disease

You might find this interesting:

"Coronavirus: Why do more men die of Covid-19 than women?"
Web Link


Posted by RS Love
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Is there any COVID-19 tracking by Santa Clara, San Mateo and Stanford displaying these numbers by city like they're doing in Los Angeles?

My simple comment is that until we have more testing then we cannot track and isolate to stop transmission sooner in the hotspots. But where are the hotspots? As advised, shelter in place and wear some kind of mask if you must go inside a store to get essentials and groceries.


Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 31, 2020 at 12:58 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Is anyone else concerned about the comments stating that cell phone data is telling authorities about how well we are socially distancing?

I think we should be very concerned about our phone spying on us.

Apart from anything else, if I go for a walk with my spouse and we both have our phones with us, phones that are on separate plans with separate providers, the phones may suggest that we are not socially distancing ourselves. The fact that we live together, in fact share a bed, is not known to our phones, but when we are out we are breaking social distancing rules?


Posted by Puffin
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:40 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Cuyahoga County in Ohio is reporting confirmed cases by zip code.


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2020 at 2:54 pm

@Chris Are you a Buckeye? My sister lived in Cuyahoga County before she moved to Florida. And I was born and raised in Summit County.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2020 at 7:39 pm

This graph says it the clearest and most visually convincing ....

Web Link

WE MUST REQUIRE PEOPLE GOING OUTSIDE TO WEAR MASKS - IMMEDIATELY.

The countries with the lowest rates of infection are among the most densely
populated countries ... Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

MAKE IT SO ASAP --- PALO ALTO CITY GOVERNMENT.

Markets and stores must require shoppers to wear masks to enter the store.
There are indications that the CoronaVirus can linger in the air for hours, and
in an enclosed place like a supermarket that is going to end up to be a
breeding ground for disease if we do not stop those particles from getting
in the air in the first place.


Posted by Social Distancing Phones
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:40 pm

> The fact that we live together ... is not known to our phones, but when we are out we are breaking social distancing rules?

That would be extremely easy to know -- your phones are co-located, you started and stopped your walk together. Depending on what they allow on the data, they could know your name, habits and more.


Posted by fubar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2020 at 10:09 pm

Redaction needed!
Normalized for population, the charts are about the same, not different.


Posted by updated graph
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2020 at 11:39 pm

It looks like PAO replaced the original graph with an updated one. The rate of infection is currently very slightly higher in Santa Clara than in San Mateo County, but it was the other way around a few days ago. We'll need to see how things shake out in the next week to see whether these differences persist.


Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2020 at 12:40 am

Not extensive data, but Santa Clara County does have the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Data Dashboard (sometimes slow to load): Web Link



Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:23 am

Please fix the key. One line is red and one is green. Which one is which county? There are no bright and dim graphs.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Santa Clara county is second only to Los Angeles in the state IAW the SJM daily reporting page. Part of the issue here is Density. That is why New York and California are so high in numbers - some other states are keeping a lower profile.
When all is said and done here we need to insure that we closely monitor any effort to increase density by our local politicians. Those who support the SB50 and it's newer revision need to back off -they are doing no favors here to either the local population or the companies that are located here. We have passed the tipping point for a healthy environment for both the residents and companies.


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:10 pm

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, that's certainly what I've been thinking. And I assume SB50 will be on hold for a long time after this is all over, although I know I could be wrong. But clearly, the last thing we need is even more population density. We need to learn from this, and not be in an even worse position next time.


Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Looks like they should change the headline now since the scaled rates are pretty close to the same...


Posted by MVresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:51 pm

@Trump fired...you keep blaming Trump for misinformation. Care to explain de Blaise s comments on March 10:
“If you’re under 50 and you’re healthy...there’s very little threat here. This disease, even if you were to get it acts like the common cold or flu and transmission is just not that easy.”

See, the difference here is that I don’t blame de Blasio. He commented on the best info he had at the time. Stop blaming Trump or his administration. Just STOP.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 2, 2020 at 11:20 am

Note in the SJM today - 04.02 - "State, Jerry Brown failed to prepare for pandemic" - Dan Walters, columnist for the LA Times.. It notes that the state under Schwarzenegger put in budget and plans for a huge health response to health disasters. Jerry Brown deleted the budget for this planning effort to direct those funds to his personal identity issues - including High Speed Tail. Jerry Brown also deleted the budget assigned to Oakland restoration projects.

People here have a habit of addressing a problem with no regard as to how the problem was addressed in the past that bring us up to the current predicament.
In no way is DT responsible for decisions made many years ago by past legislative actions. It is like herding cats.
Bottom line is that this state is directly responsible for it's ability to respond to major disasters. Put is dams that have not been maintained in that bucket.


Posted by DebbieK
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 4, 2020 at 11:40 am

To @Alex @Agree and @Nayeli:
SCC's pop is 86% GREATER THAN SMC's pop; SCC's population is 186% OF SMC's population. Both mean "about double." [186% "greater than" would be 286% "of" the population or about triple] A common mistake, unfortunately.


Posted by ages
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2020 at 1:53 pm

The most worrisome aspect from the perspective of SCC IMO is that the pie-charts indicate that the affected individuals and, especially, those who died of covid-19 are MUCH younger in Santa Clara than in San Mateo county. Admittedly the population of SCC may be, on average, younger than that of SMC, but then one would expect a lower, rather than comparable/slightly higher incidence of infection and death. What could explain this?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2020 at 5:28 pm

A possible issue here could be that the employees of Google tend to be a certain age - on the young side, as are Apple employees. We also have a higher percentage of H1b employees working for these companies and others in the SV valley. They probably tend to live close to each other and are more densely packed in the offices. So economy of space may have fueled this problem. They have a work style that is probably impacting this problem.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm

After this is all over - time for the technology companies to rethink their hiring process. Time for them to put satellite campuses out by UC Merced. Cheaper homes. LESS DENSITY. We have already learned that everyone does not have to be in the office, they can be at home or a satellite location.
We have a bottom line too - we are not going to destroy the residential single family home structure because someone wants to hire more people.


Posted by Stan Shore
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Correct me, if I am wrong. It appears that 75% of the Coronavirus deaths in San Mateo County are seniors 75 years or older. It also appears that 71% of Coronavirus deaths in Santa Clara are seniors 75 years or older. I am also assuming most 75+ year old Coronavirus deaths were seniors with serious pre-existing medical problems. Of which most will have died from normal aging. Should we even include anyone 75 years or older with serious pre-existing medical issues in the Coronavirus death count? Shouldn't we also post what percentage of 75 year or older seniors would have died from their pre-existing medical problems.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 3:02 pm

@Stan Shore:

You might want to read this article. The average Years of Life Lost (YLL) is not a few months, that you might have expected from someone about to pass away soon from one cause, or another.

Web Link

"the estimated YLL was over a decade for COVID-19 deaths with 14 YLL in men and 12 in women. As such, mortality from COVID-19 represents a substantial burden to individuals and comparable to high burden LTCs such as ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Colorado changed the way they reported the numbers of Covid deaths. Initially anyone who died of anything, if they had tested positive to Covid it was a Covid death, not a cancer death, heart attack, stroke, etc. When they changed the way they reported the deaths, the numbers went down dramatically. Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

"The department now says 1,150 Colorasdoans who died had COVID-19 but only 878 of those deaths were “due to” COVID-19."


A 20% reduction in deaths is not very dramatic and as the Colorado Governor stated ""It's important to remember that every number has a name," Polis said. "It's easy to say over 1,000 people. Each one of those is a person with friends, loved ones and family. If you’re fortunate enough not to have known someone who was lost, take a moment and remember why we all need to do our part.""


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