Nationally, all signs point to continued rapid easing of the pandemic’s deadly winter surge. Cases are down 23 percent from the previous week and down 57 percent from the country’s all-time peak in early January when the U.S. recorded 1.7 million new cases in a single week. Hospitalization numbers confirm this rapid decline: There are about 77,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. as of February 10, down 42 percent from the country’s January 6 record of about 132,000 people. Reported deaths dropped for the second week in a row, with 19,266 deaths reported this week—almost 10 percent fewer than were reported in the previous week. (We have excluded from this count the 1,507 historical deaths Indiana reported with no corresponding dates on February 4; these deaths are included in our API and cumulative death count.) Testing dropped 8 percent this week, the third week of declines for that metric.
Data users planning to switch to federal data sources when our project ceases data compilation in March will be interested to note that the CDC’s case data match ours almost exactly: The two data sets are 0.018 percent apart on the seven-day average as of February 9.
The national case decline is still reflected in a strong downward trajectory in three of the four U.S. census regions—but notably, the Northeast is no longer showing a case drop. We decided to look into that regional signal by investigating regional hospitalizations.
We often refer to current hospitalizations as a way of helping us understand the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, but it’s not the only useful hospital metric for this purpose. The current-hospitalizations metric measures the burden on hospitals effectively, but because it is affected by both new COVID-19 admissions and COVID-19 patients leaving the hospital, it’s not as good at revealing the direction of outbreaks. Particularly given that more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in much of the country, we’ve also been watching the new hospital-admissions data from the Department of Health and Human Services for early signals of directional change in outbreaks.
A per capita view of the new admissions data suggests that the Midwest, South, and West are all continuing to see new COVID-19 admissions decline, but the Northeast is now showing a small but noticeable increase in new admissions in the seven-day average. The little upward hook in the seven-day average of the Northeast’s hospital admissions chart looks surprisingly similar to the one we saw in regional cases. But where is it coming from?