The Summer of Delta

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Maybe more like the late summer of Delta since things were quiet for most of June. Another week and I think I’ve given the CDC enough time to do most of the updating to the data from last week. The actual numbers will change but I suspect the remaining changes will be small.

It is really the same story that has been true for the past couple of weeks. Cases are up but the rate of growth is declining. We’ve had seven weeks of upward growth. The longest consecutive period was ten weeks back last fall although that is misleading since it was stopped by Thanksgiving when there was a lag in reporting.

For the week that ended on the 8th, there were 751900 newly reported cases. I can’t speak to tests since it seems to take a little longer for that to be updated. That is an increase of 27% from the week before. That is still a big increase although it is the smallest percentage increase since the last week of June.

Where we go from here is hard to say. There is evidence of slowing in some of the southern states but case growth is picking up in other places. Right now, the southern states still have the highest numbers but if some other states are in the beginning phase of growth, we could see this extend well into the fall.

On a state level, there are some pretty strong signs that things have peaked in Nevada. This week will tell us more about a few other places but, right now, things are still going up in most states.

As always, we start in the Northeast. Cases are up everywhere but the rate of change is still relatively small and we aren’t seeing the type of explosive growth we have in other places. And the actual case counts are still below where they were in the spring. The only worry right now for this region (and several others) is whether this is a signal that the fall wave is coming early. As cases have only recently started to rise, it is hard to say where they are headed.

Last week, I think I forgot to follow my own advice and mentioned the slowing in North Carolina which was just based on a single week. Yeah, that didn’t hold up and cases really took off last week and they continue to lead this region. In general, the rates of increase are higher here than in the Northeast. Cases have been climbing here for about five weeks so it is likely we aren’t yet close to a peak.

In the Midwest, we also see a continued rise in cases. Michigan, which had the big spike in April lags the rest of the states by just a bit but they are all seeing increases. With the exception of Michigan, the rest are near or have passes the levels observed in the spring. Rates of increase are more similar to the mid Atlantic region although none of these states are like North Carolina. But we also don’t seem to be near a peak here.

Tennessee has pulled a bit ahead of Kentucky and neither state saw cases grow as fast as North Carolina but now West Virginia is starting to see more rapid growth. While it may not look like it, the rate of growth has slowed in both Tennessee and Kentucky. But there isn’t yet evidence that they are close to peaking.

Alabama was another state where I reacted to a single week as cases took off again last week. I do want to point out that growth in Florida did slow but that is also based on a single week so I don’t yet want to make too much of it. This remains the region seeing the highest growth with the case numbers in Florida an Mississippi being at their highest point. Cases in Florida have been up seven weeks in a row. Historically, that would suggest the peak is near but it is too early to really say that with confidence.

South Dakota has big gaps in their reporting so their line isn’t accurate. Iowa and Nebraska have passed the spring plateau levels but growth rates here remain comparatively low. This is the region where the fall wave started last year so the next three weeks are going to be important to watch.

Missouri, which was leading the way here for several weeks has now been passed by Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. We’ve not yet had a seven day period with a decline in cases there so we can’t call a peak but the growth rate has slowed over the last two weeks. Texas may also pass Missouri next week. (As a reminder, this is cases per million people. In raw cases, Texas would be ahead)

A mixed bad in this region. We’ve got pretty fast growth in Idaho and Wyoming but things are flat to potentially declining in Utah and Colorado. Colorado had one of those upticks in April and isn’t close to that level while the other states have gone beyond. This is another region where the fall wave started last year so the growth rates in Idaho and Wyoming need to be watched.

Nevada and California actually saw a week over week drop in cases. It looks like it could be a peak but I need to see a more confirmed downtrend to confirm. Cases in Arizona are up but still not at last year’s levels. Hawaii saw a big increase and currently sits at their highest weekly total for cases.

If I drew up a list of the states with the highest growth rate in cases week over week, Oregon and Washington would be in the top 10 and Alaska would be in the to 15. So the growth rate here is similar to states in the Southeast. The actual case numbers are much lower which is probably why this region doesn’t get a lot of attention. For Oregon and Washington, the case counts for last week are in the same range they were back in early January. If the increase keeps up, both states could set new records in a couple of weeks.

So cases continue to rise although at slower rates. The news out of Nevada and California is good but too early to celebrate. Would love to see peaks confirmed there and also see things start to decline in Missouri. That would help to put a bound on when this wave might end.

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