Mid October 2021 – COVID US Update

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I think I could just recycle last week’s post as the situation continues to be the same. We continue to see cases drop across most of the country with the biggest drops being in the South and Southwest. Only in the far north are we seeing cases rising but, even there, I’d say we don’t have anywhere seeing really explosive growth.

It still seems far too early in the fall/winter season to say that things are over but the data don’t yet show anything like what we had last year and that feels like very good news and we just hope it continues.

For the week ending on October 17th, we had 551070 newly reported cases which was down 14% from the previous week and represents the sixth week in a row with an overall decline. This is the lowest number of new cases since the week ending on July 25th when there were 411753 new cases. The percentage of positive results was 6.1% which is the same as last week and the lowest since we saw 5.8% during the week ending on July 18th.

It is fair to point out that we are still far above the low point in mid June where we had a week with only 81310 new cases and when less than 2% of tests were positive. We are also still above the levels observed in April so the trends continue to go in the right direction but there is still significant room for improvement before we can say that this is over.

Last week, cases rose in only 8 states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan and Rhode Island so we continue to pattern of seeing declines in most of the nation.

Just for fun, I tried to create a new scale to look at two things – the overall number of cases and the trend. I decided to look at the change from last month rather than last week so we identify long term trends and aren’t influenced by short term variations. The number of cases is per million which controls for population. It isn’t a complicated scale – combine the ranks for both categories and then use that to rank the states.

In the Northeast, we see a pretty wide range:

  • Connecticut (12) – while they saw a small increase last week, the overall number of cases is low.
  • New Jersey (16) – cases dropped over the last month and the overall number is low.
  • Massachusetts (23) – similar to New Jersey but just didn’t see as much of a drop.
  • Rhode Island (27) – in the top half for cases, but bottom half for rate of change.
  • New York (29) – like Rhode Island, top half for number of cases but didn’t see a big drop.
  • Maine (36) – ranks in the bottom half for both cases and change but showing signs of improvement.
  • Vermont (39) – saw cases go up 10% from a month ago and ranks in bottom half for number.
  • Pennsylvania (42) – relatively high number of cases and basically flat over the month.
  • New Hampshire (49) – high number of cases and saw cases rise by 31% over the month.

Moving down the coast a bit, we have one place in the top 10.

  • DC (8) – low number of cases and a drop of 46% over the month.
  • Maryland (15) – low number of cases and cases fell by 24% over the month.
  • Virginia (19) – in the top 20 for both categories.
  • North Carolina (32) – ranks in the bottom half for cases and only saw cases drop by 10%.
  • Delaware (37) – did see a drop of 20% but still has a relatively high number of cases.

Overall, this region is trending in the right direction although cases aren’t dropping as fast here as they are in other regions.

To the Midwest where the northern part looks worse.

  • Illinois (17) – ranks in the top half of both categories.
  • Indiana (24) – more cases than Illinois but a bigger drop over the month.
  • Ohio (31) – still a high number of cases even with a 25% drop over the month.
  • Wisconsin (41) – did see a 15% drop over the month but cases are still high.
  • Michigan (47) – just behind Wisconsin in cases and also saw a 32% increase over the month.

Trends look good in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and we may be seeing the beginning of a decline in Wisconsin. Michigan lagged the rest of the region in seeing the increase but we may be nearing a top there.

Still seeing big declines in all three of these states. Their scores will continue to improve as case numbers drop.

  • Tennessee (10) – ranked in the top 10 for change with a 59% decrease over the month.
  • Kentucky (18) – just behind Tennessee in change with a 50% decrease but higher cases.
  • West Virginia (28) – still ranks in the bottom 5 for cases but numbers continue to decline.

Region continues to look positive.

On to the South where all five states rank in the top 10 because they saw big declines over the month and the case numbers are also now at very low levels.

  • Florida (2)
  • Mississippi (4)
  • Alabama (6)
  • Georgia (7)
  • South Carolina (9)

Florida is within striking distance of the June lows and the rest of the region is headed in that directions. Clearly the region in best shape right now.

We move from one of the best to one of the worst.

  • Iowa (25) – biggest drop in the region (36%) but still a high number of cases.
  • Nebraska (30) – best in terms of cases but not as a big a drop as other places.
  • South Dakota (33) – bigger drop than Nebraska but higher number of cases.
  • North Dakota (45) – ranks near the bottom in cases and saw just a 2% decline over the month.
  • Minnesota (51) – saw cases rise 25% over the month and has a high number.

The short term trends for North Dakota and Minnesota might be positive so we’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks. Interesting that like the Midwest, the most northern states lag behind the others. While the decline is slow, the trends in Iowa and South Dakota are positive.

Not quite as good as the Southeast but still in good shape. Still seeing big drops and cases are getting down to low levels.

  • Louisiana (5) – closest to the rest of the south with a low number of cases and a big drop.
  • Texas (11)
  • Arkansas (13)
  • Missouri (14)
  • Oklahoma (21)
  • Kansas (26)

I don’t think it is a coincidence but you clearly have a north/south ranking. You can line them up. From worst to best you have Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Then, you get North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. I don’t know why people seem to ignore this fact but there is such a clear geographic/seasonal pattern to this data.

We move to the Rockies which is the worst region in the country right now with five states in the bottom ten. High cases numbers and little change over the month.

  • Wyoming (38) – saw the biggest drop but ranks 49th in terms of cases.
  • New Mexico (43) – lowest in cases but did see a 14% increase over the month.
  • Utah (44)
  • Colorado (46) – Saw a big jump over the month but might be an artifact.
  • Montana (48) – Jumped Wyoming in cases and ranks next to last.
  • Idaho (50) – Just behind Wyoming and Montana in cases but had the smallest decline.

Wyoming jumped the gun in terms of seeing cases rise but they’ve been slowly trending down. The rest of the region is flat but may start to look like Wyoming in a few weeks.

Another region with some separation between states. Of course, we have Hawaii which is different from the rest of the states. But we’ve got some big states with varying climates and that plays into it.

  • Hawaii (1) – Fewest cases and the biggest drop gets you to number 1.
  • California (3)
  • Nevada (20) – ranks in the top half in both categories even with a short term rise this week.
  • Arizona (35) – cases remain high and are falling slowly.

Even with the slow rate in Arizona, the trends here are positive.

While Alaska is far north, we do have another region where we get a north to south pattern in the rankings.

  • Oregon (22) – ranks in the top half of both scales with a 30% decrease in cases over the month.
  • Washington (34) – only saw a 17% drop in cases and has more cases than Oregon.
  • Alaska (40) – highest number of cases in the nation despite the 21% drop over the month.

Oregon and Washington were tracking but Oregon broke away a bit this last week. Washington probably catches up soon. Not sure what happens with Alaska.

Really the same story as the rest of October. Go south and things get better. Don’t know if things are going to turn around and start rising but even in the north, nothing looks as bad as last year.

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