Late September US COVID Numbers

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Well it has been a bit but it is safe to say that the wave in the South has peaked and things are picking up in other parts of the country.

Because of the delay in FDA numbers, I’m reporting for the week ending on September 19th. During that week, there were 943,382 newly reported cases which was down 4% from the week before and the second straight week of declining new cases. This figure is the lowest since the week ending on August 8th.

With the additional time, I’m better able to fill in the testing numbers and so it does look like percentage of positive tests peaked the week ending on August 22nd at 10.8%. They’ve been below 10% for four weeks in a row hitting a new low of 9% last week.

Now, we are in kind of a transition zone with cases dropping across the south but rising elsewhere. So it is possible that the rise will offset the drop and cases may start climbing again. That would be consistent with seasonality of respiratory viruses which hit the northern latitudes harder in the fall through winter.

If I look at weekly totals, there are 23 states that hit new highs last week. To be clear, I’m only looking at summer so it doesn’t mean new highs for the pandemic. Just new highs relative to where they’ve been and a sign that cases are rising.

In the Northeast, the only state not currently at a peak is New York which had a peak of 36877 cases per million during the week ending on August 28th. For the last week, they had 36593 cases per million or less than 1% from the peak. Would not say New York has peaked – at best cases are flat. The other thing of interest here is that the rate of change is much less than in other places and certainly less than the increase observed in late fall of last year.

Moving down the coast, you see the contrast. North Carolina is down 25% from their recent peak and cases have dropped three weeks in a row. The other states in the region are all at peak values. But most of them aren’t really seeing big increases. Instead we see many of them in kind of a plateau where they’ve been for several weeks. The next weeks will be interesting here as well.

Another region with some contrasts. Indiana peaked during the last week of August and is down 17% from that peak with cases having dropped three weeks in a row. Illinois peaked during the first week of September and cases are down 14% from that peak. The other three are all at new highs. Based just on seasonality, we would not expect to see Illinois and Indiana acting like southern states and it is true that the declines there are not as big as you’ll see in the south. And, while cases are up in Michigan, they are still low relative to the rest of the group.

Another region where we see differences. Both Kentucky and Tennessee hit peaks during the week ending on August 28th. Kentucky is down 25% from that peak while Tennessee is down 50%. West Virginia, on the other hand, is at a new high and cases there have gone up ten weeks in a row. That could be a sign there are near the end.

Into the deep south, where all states are seeing declining case numbers. Mississippi hit a peak during the week ending on August 21st while the other four peaked a week later. Cases are down 58% in Florida, 50% in Mississippi, 45% in Georgia, 35% in Alabama and 25% in South Carolina.

Going to the northern plains, we have two states (South Dakota and Nebraska) that are not at a peak and the other three (Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota) that are. South Dakota is only 7% below their peak and Nebraska is only 4% below theirs. So neither one really looks to be in a decline but seem more to be in kind of a plateau. Iowa and Minnesota saw pretty big jumps last week while North Dakota didn’t. Right now, the rate of increase doesn’t look like it did last year but we are still early in fall so it is too soon to really know what is going to play out here.

Another region where cases are dropping everywhere but the size of the drop varies. Arkansas and Missouri peaked during the week ending August 7th and Arkansas is down 37% from that peak while Missouri is only down 25% from its peak. But the trends are clearly down in both states. Louisiana peaked during the week ending on August 14th and cases are down 68% from that peak. Oklahoma is down 35% from their peak. Kansas is down 16% and Texas is only down 12%. Still the trends across the region are for declining cases.

Into the Rockies, where New Mexico is down 27% from their peak which was on the week that ended on August 28th. Wyoming and Utah are also off peaks although Wyoming is only down 5% and Utah is down less than 1%. Both states look more flat and have been for about four weeks. While Colorado did hit a new high, they are like Utah and Wyoming with cases stuck in a range for the last four weeks. Idaho and Montana did see big increases.

Into the Southwest where cases are also dropping everywhere. All four states peaked during the week that ended on August 28th. Hawaii is down 46% from that peak while California is down 45%. Arizona is down 26% while Nevada is only down 9%. Nevada is truly an odd case because cases have kind of been flat there for seven weeks in a row. Not sure what is going on there.

To the Pacific Northwest where Oregon and Washington are seeing cases drop. Both also peaked in that last week in August and cases are down 28% in Oregon and 12% in Washington. Alaska just set a new high and cases have been up ten weeks in a row so that is getting a little long for a wave.

Overall, about half the country saw new highs in cases last week. But in a lot of places, we aren’t seeing big increases. It still seems too early for things to have actually peaked in parts of the North so we will have to wait and see. Clearly, the wave is over across the south and southwest.

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