We have a long holiday weekend coming up as the 4th of July is on a Monday and that is going to disrupt the data for a bit. I’m thinking it will take a couple of weeks to settle down so, unless something dramatic happens, I’m going to let this rest for a few weeks.
Also, we have another issue with the data. Testing in the US seems to have peaked somewhere around Memorial Day because test volumes have been dropping since then. How low are they? Last week, there were only 2,763,490 newly reported tests. Sounds like a lot but it is the lowest since the week ending on May 17, 2020 back when we had limited testing availability.
On the one hand, I’ve always argued that we do too much testing and so we are finding way too many false positives that get tossed into the total. So it could be that the testing is now focused more on people with symptoms. And it could also mean that people with light symptoms aren’t rushing out to get tested.
But, in the past, when testing has come down it was because a wave was subsiding and cases were dropping more leading to a lower percentage of positive results. That’s not the case these last couple of weeks because cases have been flat or slightly increasing. In this past week, almost 27% of the test were positive and that figure is just a little lower than we had back in January when we had a full blown wave.
So I don’t know that we can directly compare the numbers anymore and it also makes it harder to know when a wave is over. I think that eventually cases will drop low enough that it will be obvious – like it is in upper New England.
Anyway, to get to the numbers, for the week ending on June 26th, there were 741,171 newly reported cases and that was up 8% from the previous week. Much of that increase was driven by California and Texas where cases were up.
The graph above shows the biggest percentage increases were in Louisiana as well as Mississippi, West Virginia and Texas. Cases declined in 25 states and were up in the other 25 plus DC. The majority of states saw changes between -20% and 20% so not overly large but also influenced by the decrease in testing so I don’t yet know what to make of that.
The ten states with the fewest cases per million last week were New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, South Dakota, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Indiana and Delaware. The first three were under 1000. For Maine and Vermont, those are the lowest levels since August of 2021.
And the ten states with the highest cases per million last week were Hawaii, Florida, California, New Mexico, Alaska, Mississippi, Oregon, Alabama, Washington and Louisiana. Hawaii has been seeing cases drop but they still remain the highest in the nation. Alaska still can’t catch a break and the list is again dominated by the south and Pacific Coast. The south is consistent with seasonality.
It is hard to see because the data from 2021 is clustered more tightly than the data from 2022 but there is still some correlation. Among the ten lowest states this year, five were also among the ten lowest at this time last year – Vermont, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Dakota. And, among the ten highest, four were also on that last at this time last year – Louisiana, Washington, Mississippi and Florida.
Cases were up last week even as testing was down so the actual increase was likely much larger. We are seeing some of the expected seasonal rotation as the hot spots move out of the Northeast and into the South and Southwest. The Pacific Northwest is interesting as cases remain high there relative to the rest of the country but the trend has basically been flat for six to seven weeks. The decrease in testing is likely a factor in why we aren’t seeing explosive growth in places like we have in previous waves.