How many have recovered from COVID-19?
People are recovering, but like recovery itself, giving you a clear picture of how many takes time.
Think about the last time you were sick and ask yourself a few questions:
- How long did it last?
- Did you suddenly feel cured, or did you slowly recover over time?
- Did you stay in touch with your doctor while you were ill?
- Did you let your doctor know when you were better?
COVID-19 is a lengthy illness.
In social media comments, in media interviews and in public meetings, you’ve asked us: “Just how many people have recovered from COVID-19 in Pierce County?”
We all want to know this. We look at the daily case counts. We grieve over the deaths. We want to know: Don’t people get better? We want some good news. We all need to have hope.
At the Health Department, we want that, too. But we also want our case reporting and data to be accurate and reliable.
The short answer: We consider 181 people to have likely recovered.
You might be thinking: But Pierce County has more than 1,200 reported cases. Why have only a small number recovered?
We measure recovery on a spectrum rather than a simple yes, a person has recovered, or no, a person has not recovered.
And because we’re not able to track each individual patient, we looked at data sources from around the world to identify a recovery timeframe of 28 days. We wait 28 days after a person’s diagnosis was reported to the Health Department before we consider them likely recovered.
The bulk of our cases are still on the recovery spectrum. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be able to share data on our COVID-19 case count website that gives you a clear picture of cases we can consider recovered.
Why does it take so long?
Different illnesses last for varying lengths of time. You might have a cold for only a day or two. But if you are diagnosed with pertussis, you might have a cough for several months.
Again, recovery is a spectrum. In many cases, people with COVID-19 have only mild symptoms or don’t know they’re sick. Most recover at home and return to their lives. But people who have serious symptoms of COVID-19 might be ill for weeks, or they may die—particularly if they have underlying health conditions.
When our number of positive patients was low, we were able to maintain contact with them and learn if they were worse or when they were better. As the case count increased, we no longer had the staffing resources to track the health status of each patient.
Where are people on your recovery spectrum?
It’s been 47 days since we reported the first case of COVID-19 in Pierce County. But most were diagnosed in the last 28 days. We need for those cases to get on the other side of that 28-day window for them to show up in the “recovered” column.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll introduce a chart on our case count page to give a better picture of the number of recovered cases. But for now, in addition to the 181 estimated as recovered, we can report:
- 266 people were reported to us 3-4 weeks ago (March 25-31). We can report on this group by April 29.
- 373 were reported to us 2-3 weeks ago (April 1-April 7). We can report by May 6.
- 229 were reported to us 1-2 weeks ago (April 8-14). We can report by May 13.
- 216 were reported to us in the past week (April 15-21). We can report by May 20.
- 40 have died.
We know this is an uncertain time and many people are worried. We all want to hear more about those who have survived COVID-19.
We all want to have hope.
We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.