Philly’s coronavirus response

Philly’s coronavirus curves: Daily updated stats on COVID-19

How serious are infections? Is testing increasing? What’s the positivity rate? Check these charts.

Philadelphia, July 2020

Philadelphia, July 2020

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

đź’Ś Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.

Philly passed its pandemic peak in April, but the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still very much alive and circulating in the city and region.

Safety restrictions on business activity continue to take an economic toll across almost all sectors and industries, but government officials maintain they’re necessary. “The virus is still here, and maybe growing here in Philadelphia,” Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said on July 21, “and we’re going to have to learn how to live with it and how to manage it.”

Since there’s no indication of when an effective vaccine might be introduced, the best we can hope for right now is to avoid another surge — which is unfortunately happening in several other areas on the country.

What exactly is the situation in Philly?

The city’s Department of Public Health publishes a wealth of data online each day. Many of the charts and graphs are useful, especially in viewing the racial and ethnic disparities — you can see how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting the Black community — but others are less obvious.

To help make it easier to understand coronavirus trends in Philadelphia, we’re presenting two visualizations.

These charts will automatically refresh on a daily basis, so bookmark this page and check back whenever you want an update. Tip: If you’re viewing on mobile, turn your phone sideways to see the full set of data.

Watching intensity: How serious are the infections?

(If you’re viewing on mobile, turn your phone sideways to see the full set of data.)

The above chart shows three numbers in proportion to one another.

The purple line shows case count, i.e. how many Philadelphians tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The blue line show hospitalizations — how many patients checked in with coronavirus symptoms. The red line is fatalities, showing how many people died of COVID-related illness.

There can also be delays in the reported number of deaths, since not all people are diagnosed similarly and Philadelphians may be treated outside the city. Health department staff regularly does a match with various state databases to find new Philly fatalities.

The above graph uses a rolling seven-day average, not a daily-reported number, for each data point.

Capacity and infection rate: As testing increases, how many results are positive?

(If you’re viewing on mobile, turn your phone sideways to see the full set of data.)

Two different stats are shown on this chart. The green bars are total number of tests given each day, and the blue line is the percentage of tests that return positive.

The evolving relationship between these two stats makes for a useful comparison in assessing the state of the pandemic in Philly.

When COVID first arrived in the region, there were only a few test sites available and supplies were limited, so access was restricted to frontline workers and older people experiencing symptoms. Gradually capacity and supply increased, and testing was opened up to anyone who wanted it.

Those trends explain why the early part of graph above looks the way it does: back then, only a few people were getting tested, many of them had extreme symptoms. The more recent part of the graph shows that increased testing does not automatically mean an increase of cases (despite what some politicians have claimed).

Also key to remember: every person can help with the fight to keep the virus at bay.

Wearing masks (over nose and mouth) has been shown to greatly mitigate spread; they’re currently required whenever outside and less than 6 feet from people not in your unit. Also generally maintain distance from others whenever possible, and avoid large gatherings, especially those indoors or where people are loudly singing or shouting.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn story

Find everything you need to know about Philly, every day — in clear, direct language, like a good friend might say.

No clickbait, no cliffhangers: the Billy Penn morning newsletter.

Thanks for supporting Billy Penn!

Test your local knowledge — join us for the next Philly Quizzo virtual event, or take the quiz online.

Lock in your support

Reader support powers our local pandemic reporting. A monthly membership helps lock it in.

Can we count on you as a Billy Penn sustainer?