New case record

The 7-day case average in the US has reached a new high, 222,653.  The 7-day death average is at its second highest point, 2,686.  Both of these numbers are likely to rise over the next few days as the artificially low numbers recorded over the New Year holiday are replaced in the averages.  Here is the graph.

It is important to note that the increase in case numbers occurs while testing rates are the lowest they have been since before Thanksgiving.  The rate of positive results has been close to 17%.  Thus, it is likely that cases are currently underreported as a lower percentage of asymptomatic cases are detected under these conditions.  Hospitalizations continue to increase.

We aren’t yet fully caught up from the holiday dip in numbers, that will take a few more days.  My guess is that we will see a significant reporting of deaths that actually occurred during the dip.  

There are two very large unknowns in the medium term.  First we don’t know the effects of holiday gatherings yet.  There’s a delay between exposure and symptoms that can be as long as two weeks.  It will be another week before we can adequately assess how the holidays have impacted case numbers.  Second, we don’t yet have a good handle on how the UK variant is spreading in the US.  We have found enough cases that it’s likely the variant has a strong foothold, but we don’t know whether or to what extent the variant has been a contributor to the surge thus far.  The political chaos in the country may further reduce our vision as it will have an impact on testing rates and on how people respond to information about the virus.  Political conflict may also hamper the ability to implement mitigation measures.  Pandemics and insurrections are both nasty things, we have the misfortune of living through them concurrently.

I wish I had better news, but January still looks to be a very ugly month for the pandemic.  Stay safe, stay sane, and hold on to that which is dear in your life.

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