May 13, 2021

Only one in five large municipalities is still on red alert, but the fall in infections begins to slow down

Source: autonomous communities

* Information updated with the latest data available as of March 2

The curve of the third wave collapses and the incidence of infections reaches the best records since the summer. Right now, only one in five large cities continues to be on a red alert due to transmission levels, registering more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days and less than 2% of the population lives in municipalities with incidences above 500 cases. Figures reached after a rapid decline in infections that is still repeated in practically the entire territory, although it is beginning to show signs of slowing down the rate of decline. Last week, almost 2,000 municipalities had managed to reduce their incidence by half in two weeks. Today there are 1,500.

The proof of the fall in infections registered in all communities is in the decrease in the number of municipalities at the most extreme risk levels. Above the threshold of 500 cases (0.5% of the population is infected every two weeks) there are only 296 locations left. The only large city in this group is Santurtzi, in the Basque Country, where 600 infections are registered for every 100,000 inhabitants in two weeks.

The decrease stands out especially in Dénia (-93% incidence in the last two weeks), Badajoz (-92%), Puerto Real (-89%), Logroño (-89%) and Ávila (-86%). A drop in cases to which most cities join, according to the analysis carried out by based on data from the health ministries of 17 autonomous communities and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. More details on obtaining these data in the methodology.

The positive trend of the coronavirus curve continues in most of the territory. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to decline 📉 in 1,879 municipalities where 84% of the Spanish population lives. On the contrary, they are rising 📈in 274 municipalities where 5% of the population lives and are in the plateau phase (they remain more or less the same as two weeks ago) in 74, where 2% live. The rest are very small municipalities where very few cases are registered – less than 5 every two weeks – or for which there is no information available – representing 9% of the Spanish population.

The following graph shows the ranking of large municipalities (with more than 40,000 inhabitants) according to the number of confirmed cases in the last 14 days in relation to their population and also how the incidence has varied in the last two weeks compared to the previous two.

According to the latest available data, less than one million Spaniards live in municipalities with an incidence of more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, double the rate that the Ministry of Health classifies as “extreme” risk. The figure represents a very large drop over that registered a week ago: two million people then resided in municipalities with more than this incidence.

In addition, there are already 20 million Spaniards who abandon high risk levels in the pandemic, when transmission is uncontrolled. Specifically, 4,300 municipalities already register less than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days.

Heterogeneous data and absence of small municipalities

The map that opens this information shows the data of total confirmed COVID-19 cases, in 14 days and the trend of infections in each municipality of the autonomous communities that have published their contagion data in each locality: practically the entire territory to With the exception of the smaller municipalities of Castilla y León, Catalonia and Galicia, which do not break down the figures for the municipalities with fewer inhabitants.

The data for each municipality show the same variable: the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and for whom their place of residence has been identified. Most communities include the data of positives by PCR test, antigen test and some also add the cases confirmed by rapid antibody test. This medium, which has been collecting data by municipality since the end of March, calculates the trend of cases in each municipality by comparing the number of confirmed cases in the last two weeks with the infections detected in the previous two weeks.

It must be taken into account that the data of the communities are not always homogeneous with each other due to the type of tests they include, the dates on which they update their figures or due to changes in the publication of the data in the same month. The update date of each community depends on each one of them: most keep their figures updated weekly but some are delayed when updating their figures.

In total, the figures collected add up to more than two million cases of coronavirus in which the municipality of residence of the infected person has been identified. Of the 17 autonomies analyzed, Madrid is the city with the most infected detected in a single municipality. However, the municipalities with the highest incidence rate (cases per 100,000 inhabitants) are small localities in which an outbreak can affect a larger proportion of the population.

Many municipalities do not appear as there is no data available and some communities do not publish the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the epidemic. It should be borne in mind that the number of cases is closely related to the ability of health authorities to detect them. That is, the more tests or analyzes performed, the more cases detected. How many confirmed cases are there in each municipality and how is the current incidence in your locality? Check it out in the following table.

Several communities initially refused to publish data by municipality to avoid the social stigmatization of small municipalities with many infected. This is the case of the regional government of La Rioja, which initially was not going to publish data by locality and now publishes it for all municipalities.

The Balearic Islands initially refused to share their data, although in the end they published it. Extremadura, under the same criteria, initially only published 8 most populated municipalities in the region. Now it publishes the figures even by local entities, villages and districts. Castilla y León is only publishing its figures for municipalities with more than 1,000 inhabitants and Castilla-La Mancha those with more than 500 inhabitants. They are not the only cases, practically half of the regions refused to publish their figures, arguing that they wanted to avoid the stigmatization of specific municipalities. Today, they all publish their data on COVID-19 cases by municipality.

Galicia has been the last to publish the figures by municipality, which has added to its COVID-19 data portal almost 6 months since the start of the epidemic. The Galician community does not publish the figures for the municipalities that have registered between 1 and 9 cases in the last 14 days. Now all the autonomies publish the figures broken down by locality on their transparency portals, open data web or official pages with the situation of COVID-19.

Precisely, these data are essential to combat an epidemic: they make it possible to detect sources of contagion and act accordingly, provide more information to local administrations and regional governments of neighboring communities, and facilitate the analysis of the impact of the epidemic.

This analysis allows us to verify in which areas there is a higher incidence rate based on variables such as average income, percentage of the population over 65 years of age or population density. Precisely, from all administrations hundreds of statistics are published broken down by municipality: population by age, country of birth, nationality, average income, data on registered unemployment, level of studies or mortality rates.

Countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom or the United States publish their data on confirmed cases at the district, local authority and county level, an administrative level similar to a municipality in Spain.


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