Two more monthly COVID summaries to go.
It is astounding what can happen in one month. This time last month, we were worried that certain parts of the US were surging again. And they did, but it also looks like they have peaked and are trending downward. We’ll cover it all below.
I am going to avoid doing a region-by-region assessment of vaccine rates. Vaccines are going in arms. In the last month, we vaccinated nearly 20% of the entire adult population of the United States. There aren’t really states that are failing on this, there are just states that are 1-2 weeks ahead of the national average and states that are 1-2 weeks behind. But they are all getting there.
Help for India
Before we get started, however, I want to make a note about India. It’s hard to tell exactly what is happening in India because reporting isn’t as comprehensive as it is in some other countries, but it sounds like India is getting hit with COVID in an absolutely devastating way, something that I don’t think we’ve seen since the early New York City / Italy days of this crisis. Reports on the ground are horrifying and there is a lot of need. I thought about running a matching campaign like I did last summer for Rodney Smith’s charity, but I’ve become convinced the need is too immediate to wait.
To this end, please donate to one of the following charities. I found these through Anang Mittal (Anang’s twitter), so thank you to him for steering me in the right direction.
Sewa International (oxygen concentrators) (this is the one I donated to)
If you can donate cryptocurrency, Indian Bronson recommended this crypto community fund.
Thank you for any help you can give.
Every State’s COVID Numbers, April 2021
For comparison to previous months:
Here is what is going on with COVID this month:
Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin)
Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming)
Northeast States (Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania)
Southern Border (Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas)
Mid-South (Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)
Plain States (Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota)
West Coast (Washington, Oregon, California)
Upper Northeast + Alaska & Hawaii (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Hawaii)
Sometime soon, I need to do a comparison between Michigan’s recent COVID surge plotted against the death rates. If we have seen the peak of death in this particular wave (a big if), then we likely have vaccines to thank for that. What is fairly remarkable here is how quickly the surge went up, crested, and fell. It looks like most of the midwest saw some degree of surge, but also that they are on the other side of it.
We still need to hold our breath on the death reporting, we’ll know more next month. But if, for example, Minnesota stays flat on deaths even though they’ve gone through a decent sized surge, that would be incredibly encouraging.
I suspect this is going to be something of a “new normal” for the next 6-12 months. We can see that Colorado had a “surge” that seemed to mirror the Midwest surge but, much like Minnesota, there has been no accompanying surge in deaths. Every other state in this region has cases slowly declining as vaccines increase.
I hope we can see this continue into the summer and beyond.
It is weird to me how little anyone has been talking about the Northeast and COVID. The northeast and the midwest both had a massive amount of variability in their spring surges, but both regions seems to be on the mend with cases sliding down as the weeks wear on.
It is very encouraging to see very little increase in deaths related to the spring surge. The hope is that by vaccinating the elderly first (seniors are now vaccinated at a rate of over 80% nationwide), we’ve managed to protect those most vulnerable. This would be superb news so lets hope it holds up.
The southern border states are similar to the mountain states in that they have a single state that went through a surge this spring but seems to be on the far side of that without seeing a substantial increase in their death rate (so far, it may yet be early to tell).
Otherwise, what is remarkable about this data is exactly how boring it is. Nearly all states have settled into a similar pattern of low-case-low-deaths. One point of note is to keep an eye on the cases and wonder how much lower than 10 daily cases per 100K we can go and how quickly.
This is one of those situations where I just hate how things work sometimes. Functionally, the mid-South is a very boring place for COVID cases right now. Cases and deaths are low. And yet I have to scale the deaths chart this way because Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia did audits of COVID deaths and added hundreds of new deaths in a single day, causing the spikes we see here. (Keep in mind that all these charts are 7-day averages, so a single-day surge in deaths from an audit shows up as a week-long spike).
In reality, we’ve hit something of a valley in these states. I’m not sure why cases have stayed at this low plateau, but we hope to see them slip lower as vaccinations increase.
This is the one region where I do want to talk about state vaccinations. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about vaccine hesitancy and attack states that end up on the low end of the vaccine administration ranking. But if we look at where Georgia and Tennessee are, we can see see that they’re about 2-3 weeks behind Virginia. There is little reason, in my mind, to sneer or dismiss the “worst” states for lagging “the best states” by a few weeks.
It’s the same story in the plains states where Oklahoma added 1,800 deaths in a single day as they worked through a backlog of adding “probable” COVID deaths to their count. Otherwise, it’s another case of low-cases-low-deaths.
Though we’ve seen it so many times now, it’s still so strange to watch as the situation flips and a state that was doing poorly last month trades places with the states that were doing well. Oregon and Washington are climbing a bit, but I’m not sure I would call it a surge. They are, I think, in a situation similar to the Midwest, but slightly delayed due to regional peculiarities.
Of course, every delay to a surge is important now because it just means that many more vaccinated individuals. Again, we see almost no change in deaths even as cases rise, so we can hope that we’re looking at a surge of meager impact.
Upper Northeast + Alaska & Hawaii
This is probably the most boring region in the entire United States right now. The upper northeast saw a minor surge this spring, but it it didn’t grow very large and deaths remained low. Hawaii is the only state that can seem to consistently keep things below the “caution” line.
After all these charts and all this discussion, the bottom line is, thankfully, very boring. It looks like we are on the tail end of this thing. Cases are dropping or have plateaued at a low rate, deaths are low. We’ve coming off a mild spring surge with a low death rate and we’re vaccinating people like crazy. More than 50% of the US adult population has been vaccinated and it’s likely that number will be above 60% and possibly as high as 70% next month.
And that will be the last month I do this. I will keep an eye on the number, of course, and report on any and every new and interesting thing. But as we pass 70% vaccinated, there will be fewer and fewer “interesting” patterns in the data. I actually very much expect
Looney Tunes: Devil May Hare
This is the first cartoon featuring the Tasmanian Devil and it’s a great introduction. Whoever thought up the tornado effect to indicate Taz’s wanton destruction is a hero of the visual medium.
Bug's tries to interrogate a set of manically fleeing animals as to the source of their distress and discovers the existence of the Tasmanian Devil. The two characters spend the rest of the short running the standard Bugs vs Antagonist gamut of gags and jokes. There are occasional and brilliant moments where Taz breaks from his character of mindless destruction to a moment of erudition. For example, when Bugs pulls his first fast one on Taz and buries him in a shallow grave, Taz comes out and demands “Why for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?”
"I actually very much expect..." ... what? ;)
Excited to see what you’ll write about after Covid!