National numbers, September 19

Some previous Delta hotspots are seeing case numbers decrease, while others are now seeing their highest cases yet. Charts from the September 16 Community Profile Report.

In the past week (September 11 through 17), the U.S. reported about one million new cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 146,000 new cases each day
  • 312 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 6% more new cases than last week (September 4-10)

Last week, America also saw:

  • 78,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals (24 for every 100,000 people)
  • 10,000 new COVID-19 deaths (3.1 for every 100,000 people)
  • 100% of new cases now Delta-caused (as of September 11)
  • An average of 800,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

Last week, national case numbers appeared to be in a decline, with a 13% decrease from the prior week. This week, cases bumped back up slightly—most likely due to delayed reporting driven by the Labor Day weekend, as I predicted in last week’s issue.

Still, this week’s daily new case average is lower than it was a couple of weeks ago. And the number of COVID-19 patients newly admitted to hospitals, a crucial metric that’s less susceptible to holiday reporting interruptions, has continued to drop: from about 12,000 new patients a day last week to 11,000 new patients a day this week.

But we can’t say the same thing for death numbers, unfortunately. Over 10,000 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. last week, the highest number since March 2021 (at the tail end of the winter surge.)

The country reached a sad milestone this week: one in 500 Americans have died of COVID-19, according to a Washington Post analysis. For Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, as well as states that have been harder-hit by the pandemic, that number is lower. In Brooklyn, where I live, COVID-19 has killed one in every 240 residents.

In some parts of the country, the Delta surge appears to be letting up. Florida saw an 18% decrease in cases from last week to this week, according to the September 16 Community Profile Report, while Texas saw an 8% decrease. California—where residents just voted to keep harsh-on-COVID-19 Governor Gavin Newsom in power—saw a whopping 23% decrease in cases, week over week.

Meanwhile, other parts of the South and West are seeing their highest case numbers yet. Both Tennessee and West Virginia have recorded over 700 new cases for every 100,000 residents in the past week. (For context: the CDC says that over 100 new cases per 100,000 constitutes high transmission.) In West Virginia, hospitals are “overwhelmingly inundated” with COVID-19 patients. And in Alabama, though case numbers are coming down, a whopping 50% of hospital ICU patients have COVID-19.

According to the latest CDC variant estimates, 99.7% of new cases in the country are now caused by Delta. Delta has been causing over 99% of cases for a few weeks now. Has the variant run its course here? Could it mutate into something even more transmissible, or more deadly? Or is the CDC even collecting data comprehensively enough for us to tell? Many different scenarios seem plausible as we head into the colder months.

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