National numbers, June 6

In the past week (May 29 through June 4), the U.S. reported about 100,000 new cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 14,000 new cases each day
  • 31 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 35% fewer new cases than last week (May 22-28)

Last week, America also saw:

  • 18,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals (5.5 for every 100,000 people)
  • 2,300 new COVID-19 deaths (0.7 for every 100,000 people)
  • 70% of new cases in the country now B.1.1.7-caused (as of May 8)
  • An average of 1 million vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

Cases continued to fall this week, with a seven-day average now under 20,000 new cases a day. This is basically the lowest number we’ve seen in the U.S. since spring 2020—though it’s important to note that the U.S. was doing minimal testing at that time, so the true case numbers in March 2020 were likely much higher than what was reported.

Also, last weekend’s holiday—like past holidays—likely resulted in fewer cases being reported early this week. Many testing sites and public health departments close for holidays, and it’s hard to imagine who might want to go get a nose swab on Memorial Day. Fewer than 10,000 new cases were reported last Monday and Tuesday, according to the CDC, followed by double that number each day for the rest of the week.

Despite such low overall case numbers, infection rates remain high for the unvaccinated. A recent Washington Post analysis adjusted COVID-19 infection rates by subtracting vaccinated residents from state populations. In Washington state, for example, the case rate among unvaccinated residents is “as high as it was in late January.”

Also, as policy researcher Julia Raifman pointed out on Twitter, fewer than half of the lowest income workers with kids are vaccinated—likely because of vaccine accessibility issues. Workers in this income bracket are also more likely to report that they had to miss work due to a COVID-19 infection, compared to higher-income Americans. 

Nationwide, about half of the U.S. population has had at least one dose, including 63% of adults and 86% of seniors. The rate of vaccinations has slowed this past week (now only one million doses administered a day)—though this may in part be a holiday reporting lag as well. Biden’s administration continues throwing incentives at the problem in the hopes of meeting his July 4 goal.

Testing numbers have also fallen in recent weeks, likely because vaccinated Americans have few reasons to need a test. Data watcher (and former COVID Tracking Project volunteer) Conor Kelly noted that we’re averaging under 1 million tests a day for the first time since fall 2020. At the same time, though, the national positivity rate for PCR tests is lower than ever—it hit 2.2% on June 1.

Things are looking pretty good here in the U.S., though some experts say a summer or fall surge could still be possible if we relax restrictions too much. Other countries without vaccine access are not nearly so lucky.

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