COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and — in sadly all too familiar news — hospitalizations and deaths are beginning to rise again. The more transmissible nature of the Delta variant is creating a unique challenge — although many of the recent outbreaks _began_ in states with low vaccination rates, they are now also spreading to areas where large portions of the population are protected.
Despite growing concern over the spreading Delta variant, national vaccination rates are largely stalling, leading to increased cases in several parts of the country. Primarily concentrated in unvaccinated areas, daily average cases increased 39% over two weeks ago, topping 16,000. Experts, including the CDC, estimate the Delta variant is responsible for 50% of all new cases. Six states are bearing the brunt of the new outbreaks. HealthWeather shows that Nevada, Wyoming, Missouri and Arkansas all remain at elevated risk, with Florida and Louisiana rising to moderate risk.
Warning signs began to flash this week as national declines in COVID cases slowed, and many states saw cases increase. State with low vaccination rates leading new daily cases Twenty states showed an increase in average daily cases as of July 1. Nevada increased more than 100%, while most others were in the 20-30% range. All but five of these states were below the national average for fully vaccinated individuals, driving concerns that these outbreaks are centered on unvaccinated communities.
COVID-19 cases are declining, though at a slower pace than a few months ago. The U.S. is recording ≈ 11,000 cases per day, down from January’s peak of more than 260K per day. Deaths are around 300 per day, decreasing from the 3,300 deaths per day we saw in January. Despite experts’ guidance that vaccines are the ticket out of this pandemic, vaccinations nationwide have continued to slide from their peak of about 3.3 million doses administered per day to about 780,000 doses.
On March 10, 2021, as many other states braced for another wave of the pandemic, Texas took the bold steps of lifting mask mandates and removing other precautionary measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Following the loosening of restrictions, Texas experienced the highest levels in Kinsa’s overall illness signal in more than a year, driven not by COVID, but by other common contagious illnesses like strep, RSV and even some flu, according to diagnostic data.
Just over a year ago, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City was one of the first and hardest-hit places in the country. Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed and the toll on human life and the economy was devastating. All of that can now change. The U.S.’s most populous city is implementing an important step to get ahead of spreading illness: an effective early warning system for contagious illness.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. were again on the rise last month, stalling the hope that we were nearing the end of the pandemic, despite wider availability of vaccines. While this spring’s bump — aided by fast-spreading variants — was much smaller than the spike in confirmed cases in January, it surpassed the peaks of previous surges last spring and summer.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. were again on the rise last month, tempering the hope that we were nearing the end of the pandemic, despite wider availability of vaccines. While this spring’s bump — aided by fast-spreading variants — was much smaller than the spike in cases in January, it surpassed the peaks of previous surges in November and July.
Illness metrics across the country trended downwards, while a few states saw increases in COVID-19 cases. The worst-hit areas at the beginning of the month, like New Jersey and the Upper Midwest, seemed to be on the mend. The rate of vaccination declined, continuing a trend from last week as US health officials “unpaused” the J&J vaccine. New York City also announced plans to reopen this summer fully. Finally, the CDC issued new guidelines for vaccinated individuals.
With COVID-19 data from this week showing record case numbers and hospitalizations, Kinsa’s data show no signs of things getting better. 15 states are signalling imminent increases in our early-warning system, including the already hard-hit states of Texas, Missouri and West Virginia.
With the cold and flu season on the horizon – and COVID-19 cases holding steady at a very high baseline – this trend is concerning. In Arkansas, where Kinsa’s Rt metric has been moderately elevated for several weeks, confirmed COVID cases are now beginning to rise. In neighboring Missouri, Greene County has also seen high illness transmission in recent weeks.
At a national level, Kinsa’s measure of illness transmission (Rt) is near 1, suggesting that COVID-19 case growth will remain relatively stable over the next few weeks. The current baseline of 40,000 new infections per day represents a dangerously high status quo as we head into the fall, when many experts fear that the start of the school year and colder weather will fuel case growth.
There are some regions with modestly elevated illness transmission – Southern California, for example – but no states are showing alarmingly high rates of illness spread. At a national level, Rt has leveled off around 1 for the past few weeks, suggesting that we will not see major changes in case numbers in the coming weeks.
The past few weeks have brought some optimism as daily COVID-19 case counts have trended downward at a national level. However, regional trends in Kinsa data show that illness transmission (Rt) is rising again in many parts of the country — particularly in the southeast and central Plains regions — suggesting that this downward trend in new infections may plateau or even reverse in the coming weeks.
The start of summer brought with it a renewed surge in coronavirus cases, with daily new case counts climbing to a mid-July peak that was twice as bad as the initial spring wave. However, the latest national data shows a slight deceleration in cases over the past week. But is this just a temporary reprieve — or perhaps the result of reporting issues?
Kinsa’s data show that illness transmission accelerated in many states over the past few weeks, and this trend is now translating into growing COVID-19 cases in states like Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee. But two of the states that are on our watchlist – Pennsylvania and Michigan – have not yet seen significant growth in cases. Our data suggest that may be about to change.
A disease’s effective reproductive number, Rt, is a critical metric used to understand whether an illness outbreak is under control. Using Kinsa’s fever data, we derive a real-time Rt indicator for disease spread in an area that historically follows the expected patterns for seasonal influenza.