Patient X

The president tested positive. So did nearly 300,000 others.

David Robert Newman
3 min readOct 4, 2020

Nearly 300,000 Americans tested positive for coronavirus this week, including one named Donald J. Trump.

“In medicine and public health, you don’t blame patients when they’re sick. You look for systemic failures,” said Ashish K. Jha, dean of public health at Brown University.

I join millions of others in wanting the president to get better — and in finding that months of denial has turned out to be a lousy public-health strategy.

Here are brief summaries of this week’s virus statistics. There are complete numbers at the end of this report.

  • Nationally, cases fell but infection levels are rising fast in multiple states in the Midwest. In fact, more than half of all states saw infection levels rise in September. New York City braced for another possible wave of new infections as new cases shot up among religious communities in Brooklyn and Queens. Also, around 5,000 more Americans died this week as a direct result of the virus.
  • California continues to make good progress with all key metrics. New cases and hospital and ICU patients all declined this week. Testing also fell 7%, though that may be a statistical anomaly.
  • In Ventura County, cases have been declining for weeks. However, in the past three days new cases have risen above the 14-day average. It’s too soon to say whether this is a trend. The preceding few days’ numbers were quite good. The county might well still move into a lower-risk tier in the state’s ranking system, allowing more places to reopen.

In short, despite modest overall gains this week, there’s still a LOT of virus around. We now have nearly 50,000 new cases per day nationwide, well more than 2x the number we had when the summer surge began in June.

Despite spikes in the Midwest, US cases fell slightly overall this week. Hospitalizations were up 3%, and deaths fell below the 5,000-per-week mark.
Toward the end of this week, the rate of new cases crept up toward 50,000 per day. That’s well more than double the level we had when the summer surge began in June.
Although the virus remains widely distributed throughout the country, infection levels are highest in the Midwest. More than half of US states saw infections per capita increase in September. And for the third week running, North Dakota claimed the “honor” of having the highest per-capita infection rates.
New cases fell 4% in California over the past week, an encouraging sign. The number of hospital and ICU patients also fell. Also this past week, 588 Californians died of the virus, which is essentially unchanged from the previous week.
This chart from computational biologist Mike Bass shows case rates are falling in Ventura County and statewide. That’s the good news. But these are 14-day rolling averages, and do not show that after a week or so of excellent case numbers, Ventura County cases have been above the 14-day average for the past three days running.

Although a widely available vaccine is likely months away, there are things all of us can do right now to better contain the virus. Step one is awareness: With the president in the hospital, perhaps more Americans now will take the virus seriously.

The other steps are the things we all know: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces. These really work — but only if we all do them.

I wish full and speedy recoveries to president Trump, the first lady, Chris Christie, Hope Hicks, Bill Stepien, Kellyanne Conway, Sens. Lee, Tillis and Johnson, Ronna McDaniel Romney, Notre Dame president Jenkins, three White House reporters, and 11 staffers from Cleveland debate — and I have the same wish for the nearly other 300,000 Americans diagnosed this week.

Here are this week’s numbers, all sourced from

US stats for the week ending Friday, October 2 (with % change from previous week):

Total tests (positive, negative, pending): 6,475,759 (+2%)
New cases: 296,433 (-4%)
Cumulative US cases: 7,294,029
Confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations: 30,697 (+3%)
Confirmed COVID-19 ICU: 6,106 (0%)
Deaths: 4,915 (-4%)
Cumulative US deaths: 200,611

CA stats for the week ending Friday, October 2 (with % change from previous week):

Total tests (positive, negative, pending): 816,184 (-7%)
New cases: 23,237 (-4%)
Cumulative CA cases: 794,040
Confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations: 3,166 (-4%)
Confirmed COVID-19 ICU: 796 (-11%)
Deaths: 588 (0%)
Cumulative CA deaths: 15,398



David Robert Newman

Photographer, editor, accidental politician, recovering engineer.