National numbers, October 22

Test positivity has dipped below 10% for the first time since July, per CDC data.

During the most recent week of data available (October 8-14), the U.S. reported about 16,200 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 2,300 new admissions each day
  • 4.9 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 5% fewer new admissions than the prior week (October 1-7)

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 9.5% of tests in the CDC’s surveillance network came back positive
  • A 14% lower concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater than the prior week (as of October 11, per Biobot’s dashboard)
  • 24% of new cases are caused by Omicron EG.5, 20% by XBB.1.6, 20% by HV.1, 14% by FL.1.5.1 (as of October 14)

Major metrics suggest the U.S. is still in a lull of COVID-19 spread, as we’ve seen decreases in wastewater levels and test positivity for several weeks. Transmission is still high, though, and it seems likely that cold weather will drive up COVID-19 as well as other respiratory viruses in the coming weeks. 

Biobot updated its COVID-19 wastewater dashboard this week, showing a continued decline in national coronavirus levels (with a decrease of about 35% from early September through October 11). Regionally, the company reports an increase in transmission in the Midwest and decreases in other regions, though the Northeast still has the highest coronavirus levels.

WastewaterSCAN’s dashboard similarly shows a national decline in recent weeks, and higher coronavirus levels in the Northeast and Midwest compared to the West and South. Some Northeast and Midwest sewersheds in SCAN’s network, including those in Maine, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Michigan, have reported significant recent increases.

As we discuss wastewater data, it’s worth a reminder that the CDC’s new contract with Verily has disrupted the existing surveillance landscape. Verily is working on onboarding CDC contract sites, leading to data gaps on the CDC dashboard, while Biobot’s network of sites for its national visualizations has become less comprehensive.

COVID-19 test positivity, reported by the CDC’s respiratory virus testing network, is under 10% nationally for the first time since July. Northeast and Midwest regions report higher test positivity than the West and South. Hospital admissions for COVID-19 have plateaued as well.

Influenza-like activity is mostly low across the U.S., according to the CDC’s FluView network. Only Alaska and the Northern Mariana Islands report high levels as of the week ending October 14.

COVID-19 spread so far this fall is in line with the transmission levels we saw in fall 2021, during that year’s Delta surge, and a bit below last year’s levels, per Biobot. If we continue following these trends, we will be due for increased spread in November through the end of 2023.

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