In the past week (August 28 through September 3), the U.S. reported about one million new cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:
- An average of 153,000 new cases each day
- 327 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
- 5% more new cases than last week (August 21-27)
Last week, America also saw:
- 85,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals (26 for every 100,000 people)
- 7,300 new COVID-19 deaths (2.2 for every 100,000 people)
- 99% of new cases now Delta-caused (as of August 28)
- An average of one million vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)
Nationally, the current COVID-19 surge appears to be in a plateau. The number of new cases rose by just 5% this week, after a 3% rise last week. Hospitalizations are in a similar position: the number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 has held steady at about 90,000 for the past two weeks.
Among the COVID-19 experts I follow, I’ve seen some speculation that this could be the start of a Delta decline—similar to what we’ve seen in other countries, like India and the U.K. At the same time, others are noting that the U.K. saw a brief case decline followed by another rebound. If Delta does the same thing here, it would coincide with more schools starting their fall semesters and colder weather, neither of which bode well for transmission.
And there are already a lot of children in hospitals right now. According to the COVID-NET surveillance system, there were about 14 children (under age 18) hospitalized with COVID-19 for every one million kids in the U.S. during the week ending August 28. For children under age 5, that number is 20 for every million—higher than at any other point in the pandemic.
Thanks to COVID-19 and other diseases (like RSV, another virus that’s impacting many kids right now), pediatric intensive care units are overwhelmed, especially in the South. To understand what that means, I recommend this powerful op-ed by health equity expert Dr. Uché Blackstock. (Recent CDC research suggests that higher child hospitalization numbers are due to Delta’s high transmission, not because it impacts children more intensely. More on that later in the issue.)
Meanwhile, high test positivity rates indicate that many COVID-19 cases are probably not being caught—especially those breakthrough cases in vaccinated people which may be mild, but can still spread the virus to others. At the national level, our test positivity rate is about 10% right now. In several states—South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama—positivity is over 20%, meaning we probably are not getting a clear picture of the surges in these locations.
The U.S. is now seeing over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths a day, a level that we had not hit since the winter surge. Almost all of these deaths are preventable. This will continue, for as long as the Delta surge lasts.