Interested in knowing how many COVID-19 cases are in Southern California as of today? How many COVID-19 cases are in Northern California? How many COVID-19 cases are in all of California by historical date? This survey will graph the number of COVID-19 cases by date split up by the regions of Southern California and Northern California. I hope to update this daily – the data should be 12-24 hours old. I have attempted to graph the spread of COVID-19 (AKA coronavirus) in California (my home state). I hope that breaking this data down to specific regions may give us clues as to some of the properties of the virus.
Here are the two graphs:
I have arbitrarily defined “Southern California” as everything below Fresno County. Everything else is the North!
President Donald Trump once said that the coronavirus may go away with the warmer seasons. This is a general truth of respiratory viral infections – however, there is no reason to think this is certainly true or false for COVID-19. Will the above graphs give us any insights into this?
The “onset” of community spread is the date where case rise begins. The “onset” of NorCal is around 2/23/2020. The “onset” of SoCal is around 3/4/2020. SoCal’s COVID-19 spread is roughly a week behind NorCal. This could very well mean that the respective region’s “patient-zero” arrived 1-week apart. It can also mean that the patient-zero arrived at the same time, and something else (like weather, culture, or policy) affected its spread.
Look here for historical temperature of the two regions. Daily average temperate of LAX and SFO can be found in in their links. LAX is generally greater than 5-degrees Fahrenheit warmer than SFO. Could this explain the difference in disease onset date? SoCal started having an increase in cases on 3/4/2020. Interestingly, that follows about 3 days of colder SoCal weather where LAX is less than 5-degrees warmer than SFO.
Look, my informal survey doesn’t prove anything. I’m just trying to show that a relationship with COVID-19 spread and temperature may be present. If this theory rings true, than future data would further support this pattern. Perhaps we will see a plateau in new cases with warmer temperatures. Let me yell yah, SoCal gets annoyingly hot. And if this pattern holds true, it will have profound implications. We can have less anxiety. Disneyland won’t have to stay closed. I’ll know what to do with that stock market.
Some weakness in my survey to keep in mind:
- I did not count COVID-19 deaths in the regions (should still be a small number as of today)
- based my data on paid news sites, so we gotta trust the sites
- likely there are more COVID-19 cases than what is tested. But the number tested should at least show the trend.
- I wish I was smart enough to blurt out math/statistic equations to show off my credibility. I’m not.
March 16, 2020 Update:
The virus continues to spread in my home state. I’ve though more about viral physiology in the context of this article post, so please allow me to share here. As we know, viruses are these little particles that infect other cells – they are not even considered “life” by most scientists (keep in mind that the definition of life is subjective and you can find well-qualified people arguing about what constitutes as life – that’s a whole other story). A professor of mine explained it to me like this: think of a virus pathogen as a mouse trap. When it finds a suitable target, the spring is released, the trap “activates,” and “rape” occurs in the microscopic level. The viral-particle-mousetrap injects its genetic code into the victim cell, hijacks the living organs of said cell, and forces it to make more copies of the viral-mousetrap with spring fully loaded.
So let’s follow the journey of a COVID-19 virus. A new copy is made inside a human lung cell (epithelial cell) – let’s call this specific COVID-19 copy “CORY”. CORY, along with millions of its sisters are bundled up into mucous as soon as it leaves the epithelial cell. From the perspective of the infected patient, the body knows that the virus is a foreign body so it makes mucous to wash it out of the system. From the perspective of CORY, it gets a free ride out of the infected patient and into the environment. The infected patient coughs or sneezes. She catches the big luggie in a napkin, that’s easy for such a classy lady. (my hypothetical infected patient is very attractive so don’t be grossed out and don’t be angry at her for being a COVID-19 spreader) But all the smaller microscopic mucous/saliva droplets are missed. It gets into her hands and then the stairway railing. Several minutes later, another person uses the railing. He walks up the railing, touches the railing, picks up the microscopic mucous droplet containing CORY, scratches his nose, then BOOM, we have another COVID-19 patient.
The fact that virus, such as the coronavirus, are non-living mousetraps is an interesting point. It means that it can’t move or run. It can’t repair itself. All it can do is stay still and hope that the right host will come into contact with it. Even if one small part of the virus breaks down, the whole trap mechanism will not work making it an impotent rapist. So in essence, the virus has to exist in ideal medium for it to stay functional. This medium is human saliva and mucous. I believe that COVID-19 has to exist in a hydrated, pH balanced, and electrolyte balanced medium to remain potent. Alter any of these factors (ie. dry out the mucous droplet) and the ability of COVID-19 to infect its next host drops significantly. This is why I believe weather may play a role in slowing down COVID-19. Its a contrarian idea, especially in these times where everyone seems to be going crazy.
So let’s follow CORY’s journey in sunny Los Angeles. CORY and his family gets deposited in the park railing under Los Angeles sunlight in 75 degrees temperature. The sunlight itself has strong UV light that destroys genetic material and proteins. The warm weather will dehydrate the mucous deposit quickly. Other people in contact with the park railing still pick up the microscopic mucous droplet – full of impotent viral particles. Gross as that may sound, at least that person doesn’t get infected with potent COVID-19. There are so many environmental factors that affect how quickly the virus dries out, ie. if its in shade, if its on the under side of the railing, if its living in a crack in the surface. My point is that people can still potentially get infected with COVID-19 in warm/hot sunny weather, but how easily the virus infects the next person is greatly reduced. Stated in another way: how long COVID-19 can stay alive outside of the human body is much shorter in sunny hot weather versus cold humid environment.
The truth is that there are many details we are not certain about regarding this novel coronavirus. In these pessimistic times, I like to think that some of these details we learn in the near future may be positive.
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During this virus season, you may have to telephone your doctor with a medical problem regarding yourself or a loved one. Give your doctor the most accurate clinical information possible so that they can treat you effectively. Medical equipment has become very affordable in today’s internet age. Consider having these devices in your home as a safeguard – just in case you need them. The following are medical equipment needed to take “Vital Signs,” the most fundamental piece of clinical information your doctor will use when assessing a patient:
- Thermometer for measuring temperature. You can buy thermometers here. NOTE! Thermometers are the best way to screen for COVID-19 currently. They are in high demand, so these items are completely sold out! You may need to check back here to buy one!
- Pulse oxymeter will measure your oxygen levels and heart rate. You can buy “pulse ox” here. Any serious viral infection, including COVID-19, can lower your oxygen levels. A low oxygen level should definitely trigger you to call your doctor for further advice.
- Blood pressure monitor will measure your blood pressure and heart rate. You can buy a BP monitor here. Any serious infection, including COVID-19, can lower your blood pressure drastically. If this were to occur, you should definitely call your doctor for further advice.