State of Affairs: Sept 29, 2021

We’re starting to get some great news in the States. Cases have decreased 33% in the past 14 days, which is welcomed progress. We need all the help we can get before Winter, as coronaviruses are typically seasonal.

And while we’re improving as a whole, there are certainly still hot spots. Alaska has the highest case rate per capita in the world, with 179 cases per 100,000. This is followed by West Virginia (92 per 100,000), Wyoming (85 per 100,000), and Montana (80 per 100,000), but these three states are starting to decrease.

And for the first time in a few weeks, the entire CDC transmission map isn’t in the red (“high transmission”). On a state-level, CA and CT are “substantial” transmission.

On a county-level, there are only 62 yellow (“moderate”) counties and 26 blue (“low”) counties. According to the CDC, if you’re vaccinated in a yellow or blue county, you don’t have to wear a mask inside. As cases continue to decrease, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on community transmission here (if anyone is still following guidance).

Hospitalizations

Because hospitalizations lag cases, these are nicely decreasing too (16% decrease in the past 14 days). Today we have 83,224 people hospitalized with COVID.

Deaths

We’re still averaging over 2,000 deaths per day due to COVID19. On a state-level, Alabama has the highest death rate per capita, but decreasing. Florida deaths are finally starting to decrease too. Alaska deaths are skyrocketing.

And while I try very hard to keep politics out of this newsletter, we can’t ignore this graph from New York Time’s “Red COVID” article. A tragic reality of a polarized landscape, politicized public health, failed scientific communication, and a pandemic of misinformation.

And, for those of you wondering, our death rate in the United States is 8 times higher than other high income countries.

Vaccinations

And why is that? Well, only 55% of Americans are fully vaccinated (64% with at least one dose). 65% of the eligible population (12+ years) is fully vaccinated. This ranks us as #48 in the world. Despite leading the science, manufacturing the vaccines, and having plenty of supply.

In August, we certainly saw an uptick in vaccinations. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported yesterday, this uptick was due to Delta, hospitals filling up, knowing someone who got seriously ill or died, or wanting to participate in activities (like a concert). We continue to live in reactive (rather than proactive) society.

Unfortunately, the increase in vaccinations was short lived. Vaccination rates are starting to decrease again. According to the most recent CDC survey, the unvaccinated are more likely to be males, younger, in rural areas, and not insured.

The booster vaccination conversation hasn’t helped either. It’s certainly been confusing for everyone, but more so for the unvaccinated. (I’m actually surprised confusion rates aren’t higher across the board).

Love, YLE