Memorial Day = Peak Covid?

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The good news is that we finally saw a drop in the weekly case count. The bad news is that it was most likely just due to reporting gaps from the long holiday weekend. The good news is that several states that had been leading the way did see cases drop – even accounting for the weekend. While I hate making predictions, it does look like the wave has peaked in the Northeast but not in other places.

For the week ending on May 29th, there were 727,305 newly reported cases which was down 1.4% from the 737,529 reported last week. That gap is about 10000 and was driven by Saturday and Sunday where the number of reported cases was down over 34,000 from the previous weekend. In other words, cases were up for the week going into the holiday weekend and we know that case counts drop over holidays because either some labs don’t report or the states don’t get all the data compiled.

Case counts are always lower on the weekend and even if the counts had been higher, the rate of increase is still slowing. As an exercise, I could double the counts for Saturday and Sunday to account for the holiday weekend. That would take us up to 771,896 new cases which would be about a 5% increase over the previous week and that would have broken the streak of double digit increases. So, while we might not be at the peak, it is certainly close.

And we did have 19 states that saw cases fall last week – remembering to take that number with the appropriate caveats since reporting is no longer done on a daily basis in most states. Some of the states in the Northeast (New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire) saw declines of more than 20% which is outside any Memorial Day effect. That’s why I start to believe that the Northeast has peaked.

But cases remain high there. The top ten states last week were Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, DC, Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, Illinois, New York and California. Remember that I don’t count DC as a state but I’ll show them in these ranking and that this is cases per million.

Here is the graph showing percentage change vs cases per million. I want to call attention to Hawaii which is still seeing cases go up and now stands out from the rest of the country. For the longest time, Hawaii had very low numbers. They really didn’t see their first wave until July of 2021. They had a big winter wave later in the year like the rest of the country and now they are seeing cases rise again with this peak already being higher than the summer of 2021 wave.

The graph also shows only a few states with big increases but it is notable that we see places like Arizona, Alabama and Georgia edging towards the right side of the graph. And Florida has not shown signs of a peak. These are places where we’ve seen cases go up in the summer and we might be seeing the start of that now. If the media suddenly notices cases dropping the Northeast and rising in Florida and starts making noise, just know that this has been the pattern for the last two years.

Our current hot spot is Hawaii. Things look to be peaking or have peaked in the Northeast and we wait to see how fast things drop. The focus shifts to the South and Southwest as we wait to see if these increases continue. If California doesn’t join in and cases continue to fall in the Northeast, then expect the national totals to continue to drop even if a couple of states are seeing things rise.

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