US Covid Update – August 27, 2022

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The news continues to be good. Cases are still dropping in most of the country. Where cases are rising, the increases remain small so we don’t have explosive growth anywhere. The trends all remain positive as we move into September.

Last week, the preliminary number was 641,606 new cases. As the states with missing data filled in the gaps, the updated figure is 658,051 and that is just 2.5% higher than the original figure so it didn’t alter the trends.

For this week, the preliminary number is 579,706 newly reported cases. While this will change when the states with missing data report, it is still going to remain under the total from the week before. This would be the sixth week in a row with declining cases.

Over the two years of the pandemic, there have been five other periods where cases were declining. Two of those were at the end of winter and one was in the late spring of 2021. The other two may be more comparable as they occurred in the late summer/early fall right before cases took off for the winter months.

From July 20 to September 7th 2020, cases dropped for eight weeks in a row. The total dropped by about 53%. In 2021, after the Delta wave, cases dropped from September 6th to October 18th. Over this seven weeks, the total number of cases dropped by 56%. The timing of this one is closer to 2020 but past history would suggest that this current run will only last another week or so. Right now, we’ve seen cases drop by 36% from the start and we’ve been close to 10% drops lately so if we see another two weeks like that, this current run will end up looking more like the last two. We’ll just have to see what unfolds in September.

This week, we are missing several days from Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina and a day or two from Colorado and Washington. So all results from those states will be discounted.

Cases dropped in 34 states last week. The bulk of the states saw changes between -20% and 20%. Outside of the states mentioned previously, the largest declines were in Arizona, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Delaware. The two places with increases of more than 20% were Kentucky and DC. While we did see a big rise in Kentucky, the number of cases was still smaller than the peak in July so this could be just an anomaly in the data.

I do also look at change from a month ago just to get an idea of long term trends and there we find that 46 states had case numbers that were lower than they were a month ago. The states showing increases were South Dakota, Maine, Tennessee and Vermont.

If we are going to see another leg up, then we will start to see more states running higher than they were a month ago. Just another thing to watch as we more into September. But right now it does not seem like we have hit any sort of a bottom.

In the year over year graph, we are comparing Delta to whatever version of Omicron we are on right now but this is an attempt to try and put today’s numbers into some kind of context.

Only New Jersey and Michigan had more cases this year than they did at this time last year and with New Jersey the difference was less than 1%. Last year, the Delta wave did peak in the first week of September and then cases started to drop so we may start seeing more states go above their total from the previous year.

Ignoring the states with missing data, the ten states with the fewest cases per million last week were New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, Utah, DC, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Connecticut, Wyoming and Maine. One cluster in the Northeast and one in the upper Rockies. Of those, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Maine made the list last year. So the upper Rockies are seeing a different trend this year than they did at this time last year.

The ten with the highest number of cases were Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alaska, Georgia, Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota. We are missing data from several southern states who likely would have made the list but the list isn’t really dominated by the deep South anymore. Last year, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Georgia were among then ten highest.

Again, the main point is that cases continue to decline and the decline is broad based. But if past history is any guide, this current run may be about to end.

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