National numbers, Dec. 27

National numbers

In the past week (December 20 through 26), 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
  • 397 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 1 in 252 Americans getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week
Four bar charts showing key COVID-19 metrics for the US for April 1 to December 26. Today, states reported 2.1M tests, 189k cases, 117,344 currently hospitalized, and 1,409 deaths.
Nationwide COVID-19 metrics published in the COVID Tracking Project’s daily update on December 26.

Last week, America also saw:

  • 117,000 people now hospitalized with COVID-19 (36 for every 100,000 people)
  • 15,600 new COVID-19 deaths (4.7 for every 100,000 people)

Around Thanksgiving, I wrote that COVID-19 data would likely get weird during and after the holiday. When the public health officials who compile and publish COVID-19 counts take a (well deserved!) day or two off, the cases, tests, and deaths that were not reported on those days off will be belatedly added to post-holiday counts. Here’s a COVID Tracking Project blog post that explains the trend in more detail.

This pattern did, in fact, come to pass after Thanksgiving: the week of the holiday, 1.1 million cases were reported, followed by 1.3 million cases the next week and 1.6 million the week after that. We should expect this to happen once again over Christmas; indeed, the COVID Tracking Project noted that 20 states did not report COVID-19 data on December 25. The true impact of over a million people traveling will not be seen in the data for weeks to come.

But while public health agencies may take a day off, hospitals never close. This week, more Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever: the number peaked on December 24, at over 120,000. That’s double the highest national patient number we saw in the spring or summer.

Over 3 million Americans died in 2020—the highest number of lives lost in one year since the nation began this morbid count. At least 323,000 of those deaths were directly caused by the novel coronavirus.

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