A Brief Recap On This Week’s Key COVID-19 Findings
After more than two years, the consequences of COVID-19 continue to knock on our doors with troubling new data day after day. Just as communities begin to ease their restrictions, another wave crushes the hope of a pandemic-free tomorrow.
Using data as an asset to fight against the virus and protect our communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares weekly insight and trends based on closely tracked data. In their May 13 release, they shared 9 findings all should consider to stay safe through this uncertainty.
Cases, Hospitalizations, & Death
Although all three of these areas of insight seem interconnected, and for most of this pandemic have been closely related, the data begins to show that they have been moving in divergent paths. This is especially true when comparing cases and hospitalizations to death rates.
In the seven-day averages, the rate of new cases increased 30.7% (from 64,863 to 84,778), and the trend remained consistent when analyzing the number of hospitalizations which experienced a 17.5% increase (from 2,238 to 2,629). The highest daily averages in the past 14 days were experienced in New York: 20 percent (2,755), California: 27 percent (1,725), Florida: 37 percent (1,750), Pennsylvania: 44 percent (1,324), and Texas: 7 percent (1,163). The CDC identified both rises as part of a gradual increase that has occurred over the last five consecutive weeks.
On the other hand, the average death toll has decreased 15.4% (from 322 to 273). But this of course does not take away from the approach of the tragic milestone of 1 million deaths brought by COVID-19.
The leading factor in the decline of infections, hospitalizations, and most importantly deaths is the growing vaccination rate across the United States. Although the CDC identified an 18% fall from the previous week, the overall numbers across the population are on the right path, especially considering the initial skepticism and hesitancy seen from some states and demographics. The U.S. is now at a 77.8% vaccination rate with about 258.3 million people having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Not far behind, the number of individuals who have taken both doses are at 66.3%. The rate of both the initial and secondary vaccine administration experienced an increase from the previous week.
Variants & Testing
As more individuals get tested, we should expect the number of detected variants to continue to rise as it is the natural progression of any virus as it fights to stay alive. The national testing rate has slightly declined in data collected by the CDC that analyzed the reports for the week of April 29, 2022 (down 4.6% from 783,008 to 746,765), yet the rate of individuals testing positive still experienced a rise of 1.98% (now at 9.1%) from the week prior.
A former commissioner of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), Scott Gottlieb, MD, recently shared his thoughts on testing with CBS News stating, “I think that we’re dramatically undercounting cases” and “we’re probably only picking up one in seven or one in eight infections”. This jump in positivity while having a decreasing testing rate and low probability of accuracy can pose a threat as more individuals are likely infecting others without knowing. This feeds to the continuous cycle of wave after wave, variant after variant.
From the projections made for the week ending May 7, the CDC estimated that the BA.2 omicron subvariant would account for 56.4% of U.S. cases. Making up the other largest group, BA.2.12.1 accounts for 42.6% of cases. Other omicron sub variants account for the remaining cases.