State of Affairs: August 16, 2021

As a nation, we aren’t in the worst of the worst. The South is a different story, though.

Cases continue to exponentially increase in the United States, which seems to be driving the North American trend far more than Canada or Mexico. We continue to keep an eye on Israel and the UK as it’s likely an indicator of what is to come in the United States.

In the States, Louisiana (126 per 100,000), Mississippi (110 per 100,000) and Florida (101 per 100,000) continue to lead the pandemic and reporting more cases than at any previous point during the pandemic. South Dakota has the steepest increase in cases (331%- looking at you Sturgis bike rally). The West is also making me a bit nervous, with a noticeable increase in hotspots across Oregon and Washington. Washington state has a 133% increase in cases, ranking it as a the third highest case acceleration in the United States.

A few states have peaked- Nevada, Missouri, and Arkansas. I’m hoping this trend continues.

Transmission

The CDC transmission map is no longer useful as almost every state is red (i.e. high transmission). The county-level map is not fantastic at differentiating either. Basically, COVID19 is a threat everywhere. (Note: Nebraska shut down their COVID dashboard at the end of June, so all the “blue” isn’t the “true” situation in Nebraska.)

Testing

Last week I was hopeful that our national peak was soon because test positivity rate (TPR) started to decrease. Unfortunately, I jinxed it. TPR is increasing again. A change in behavior- like schools starting- could explain this dramatic turn of events.

Hospitalizations

Hospitals in the South are clearly overwhelmed. Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas are hitting record hospitalization rates. There is just no room in ICU’s across Texas.

Deaths

Before vaccines, an increase in cases and hospitalizations came with an increase in deaths. After vaccines, deaths are only slowly increasing on a national level, which is fantastic news.

Unfortunately, on a state level, this isn’t necessarily the case. For example, the Nevada death rate has increased at the same rate as case increases. Florida just recently changed reporting procedures creating an artificial decrease in deaths. The true death rate continues to increase.

Two positive noteworthy updates…

  1. Lambda has been on our minds (see my last post here). Thankfully, and importantly, Lambda is fizzling out. Delta is far more dominant and pushing Lambda away as an imminent threat.

  1. Vaccines continue to work against severe disease and death. Thankfully local governments, like Oregon, are keeping close tabs.

That’s all for now. Be safe out there, YLE