National numbers, Dec. 6

In the past week (November 29 through December 5), the U.S. reported about 1.3 million new cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project. This amounts to:

  • An average of 186,000 new cases each day (16% increase from the previous week)
  • 297 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 1 in 252 Americans getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week
  • 9% of the total cases the U.S. reported in the full course of the pandemic
Chart of tests, cases, current hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide.
Nationwide COVID-19 metrics published in the COVID Tracking Project’s daily update on December 5. The seven-day average for reported COVID-19 deaths is at an all-time high.

More Americans are getting sick with COVID-19 now than ever before in the pandemic. And this outbreak isn’t isolated. Eleven states broke case records on Thursday, for example, including states in all major regions of the country.

Last week, I warned you about data fluctuations which I expected to see thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday. America first reported fewer cases, deaths, and tests, as public health workers took a day or two off and data pipelines were interrupted. Then, the cases which were not reported over the holiday were added to the count belatedly, culminating in a record of 225,000 new cases on Friday.

If you visit the COVID Tracking Project’s website, you’ll still see a warning notice about these Thanksgiving data disruptions. However, one key number tells us that the pandemic is, in fact, still getting more dire: more patients are getting admitted to the hospital than ever before.

Last week, America saw:

  • Over 100,000 people now hospitalized with COVID-19 (it’s 101,200 as of yesterday, twice the number of patients at the beginning of November)
  • 15,000 new COVID-19 deaths (5 for every 100,000 people)

To understand the impact of that hospitalization record, read Alexis Madrigal and Rob Meyer in The Atlantic:

Many states have reported that their hospitals are running out of room and restricting which patients can be admitted. In South Dakota, a network of 37 hospitals reported sending more than 150 people home with oxygen tanks to keep beds open for even sicker patients. A hospital in Amarillo, Texas, reported that COVID-19 patients are waiting in the emergency room for beds to become available. Some patients in Laredo, Texas, were sent to hospitals in San Antonio—until that city stopped accepting transfers. Elsewhere in Texas, patients were sent to Oklahoma, but hospitals there have also tightened their admission criteria.

Or, for one doctor’s perspective, read this thread from Dr. Esther Choo:

Deaths are also rising. The deaths of 15,000 Americans were reported last week—the highest number of any week in the pandemic thus far. In fact, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in America last week, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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