Looking at COVID-19 trends with creator of the BamaTracker website
By Eric Graves | July 31, 2020 at 8:55 AM CDT - Updated July 31 at 8:55 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The COVID-19 pandemic has created so match data that, at times, it is tough to make sense of it all.
David Marconnet is a Huntsville software developer and runs BamaTracker on the side. We first introduced you to him a few months ago. He helps break down all the data so people can look at certain graphs and trends.
Probably the first thing everyone is interested in is if the statewide mask order is working. The Alabama statewide order has been in place for more than two weeks now and the Madison County order has been for more than three weeks.
Looking at the numbers, Marconnet said there is some promising data, but it is probably too early to tell.
In the recent weeks, we are seeing ADPH report fewer daily cases but, at the same time, we’re also seeing fewer tests reported.
“Today my answer would be it’s still too early to tell, just because there’s a number of days before you have symptoms, a number of days you’re having to wait to get your tests results back to you and then how many days before that number goes to the health department?” Marconnet said.
He said this wait time and the inconsistencies surrounding how long it takes to actually get back test results lead him to be uncertain about the data sine the mask order went into effect.
But, one stat Marconnet does have his eye on as potentially promising is statewide hospitalizations.
“At that state level, the hospitalizations chart in the last week has started to level off and if that continues that is a really good trend, because then we are not seeing more patients coming into the hospital than were released,” he said. “For the past few weeks prior to the mask mandate that chart was steadily increasing.”
That data is just over the past week so we will have to wait and see if that trend is here to stay.
As for the mask order, Marconnet is hoping we will see the effects of it in the data in the next couple of weeks.
As we get closer to the return of school, Marconnet is noticing a more troubling trend, an increase in cases in those between the ages of 5-24.
Increase in cases in younger age group
The ADPH divides all COVID-19 cases in Alabama into five age groups, 0-4, 5-24, 25-49, 50-64 and 65 and older. Marconnet said these are pretty large groups, but there is still a clear pattern.
Since the beginning of June, the 5-24 age group has gone from having 2,253 total cases, to, as of Thursday, July 30, 16,845 cases. A more than 14,000 case jump in just under two months.
That jump catches the age group up with the 50-64 group, which sits at nearly 17,000 overall cases as well.
This contradicts in early narrative during the pandemic that young people are less likely to get coronavirus.
“In the last few weeks the number of positive cases aged 5-24 has either passed or been really close to the number of cases aged 50-64, so more and more people at that young age are coming back positive,” Marconnet said.
However, both the 5-24 and 50-64 age categories come nowhere near the 25-49 category. As of Thursday, July 31, more then 34,000 Alabamians in that age group have been positive for coronavirus.
Marconnet also provided some tips for people who may have trouble wading through all of the data and graphs created by COVID-19.
“I think taking population into account is very important,” Marconnet said. “Other counties might be showing just as many cases per day when you take their population into account.”
For example, Marconnet compared Madison, Jackson, Marshall, Limestone and Morgan on BamaTracker’s 7 Day Average per 100,00 people chart. Despite those counties reporting daily totals very far apart, the 7 day average per 100,000 put them all within 10 cases of each other.
This also brings up another important way to look at the data, becuase of inconsistencies in day-to-day reporting, Marconnet said you need to look at 7 day and 14 day averages to get the most accurate look at the data.
Another chart Marconnet said everyone should keep an eye on is the percent positive graph, meaning what percentages of Alabamians get positive COVID-19 tests results back.
“We have to get percent positive down, anywhere we go that’s higher than 10% is not good,” he said.
Right now, the 7 day average for percent positive for Alabama statewide is 18%.
Marconnet said the last few months have been crazy for everyone and he’s happy BamaTracker has been able to help people take a deep dive in COVID-19 data.
“It’s one way I can give back and help people make sense of the data, that’s been really rewarding,” Marconnet said.
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