COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, continues to spread throughout Maine.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is publishing details about each confirmed case in the state, which are visualized below.
As the CDC publishes these numbers, its director, Dr. Nirav Shah, has noted that it’s unclear how much the data lags behind the real spread of the virus.
“What we know about outbreaks is that we are often just detecting the tip of the iceberg,” Shah told reporters on March 22.
The Maine CDC breaks out cases at the county level by deaths, hospitalizations, recoveries and total confirmed cases. Each of the categories subtracted from total confirmed cases results in the other confirmed cases, shown below.
The rate of growth of cases is important to watch. Social distancing measures intend to slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick all at once, which stands to overwhelm the healthcare system.
Cumberland County has seen the largest spikes in new cases, hitting a high for new cases each day. The early numbers could be impacted by delays in testing, as well.
The chart also illustrates some of the path the disease has taken through Maine counties, starting from March 18. Piscataquis, Aroostook and Washington counties had not reported a case as of April 1.
For overall metrics, Cumberland and York will have the highest case counts because they have the most people.
The charts below adjust for population, showing the counties that have the highest current rates of confirmed infection.
These are shown alongside the latest calculations for the share of confirmed cases that have resulted in either recovery or hospitalization. These numbers only provide a small snapshot of the current status of testing and the disease in Maine.
In other words, those numbers reflect the situation on the ground in Maine and not necessarily a broader set of insights about the illness, COVID-19.
The majority of Mainers infected so far have been in their 60s, followed by people in their 50s.
The latest studies of the disease have found that it is more deadly for older people, especially people over 80.
That has not meant that younger people are in the clear — the disease can still be fatal. The line chart shows how cases have trended among Mainers of different ages.
Comparing Maine with other states
The big question is: Can America stop the spread of this virus?
At the state level, this is reflected by looking at the rate of cases day by day. How quickly are they increasing? How many days is it taking for cases to double?
The goal is to slow that growth by: keeping six feet of distance from people you do not live with; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and disinfecting regularly touched surfaces.
The chart below uses a logarithmic y-axis, where the values double at every tick on the axis. As The New York Times explained, this makes it easier to tell when case growth begins to slow:
Unconstrained, the coronavirus spreads exponentially, the caseload doubling at a steady rate. That curve, plotted linearly, is a skyrocketing curve. Plotted logarithmically, however, it transforms into a straight line — which means that deviations from the exponential spread of the virus become much easier to discern.