The COVID Digest, 22Oct2021
As things calm in the South, I look at national trends
For Georgia, cases hospitalizations and deaths continue to decrease. ICU admissions ticked up slightly this week. According to Georgia DPH data, the mortality rate among ICU patients from COVID-19 is 43%. So if 10 people go into the ICU, four are not surviving their infection.
PCR test volume and test positivity continue to decrease (left graph below). Antigen testing has leveled off and so has the test positivity rate, but it is below 5% and that is a good place to be.
If we consider the data nationally, PCR test positivity has been decreasing steadily across all age groups. But in the most recent days, we’re seeing that positivity is rising among K-12 aged children (5-17 years old) and 18-24 year olds. In the South, surges began with 18-24 year olds and in the delta wave it really started with 5-17 year olds. So seeing things tick upward for these age groups is concerning. The period of incomplete reporting is subject to change. Hopefully it changes in a favorable direction. If not, this would indicate that while test positivity is relatively low, it is beginning to rise for children and young adults. That, in turn, means that test capacity may soon not be enough to adequately measure cases. This graph comes from the HHS Community Profile Report.
The map below shows the Federal Emergency Management Agency regions. The South is in region 4.
Hospital admissions are declining in region 4. But they’re climbing, particularly for 70+ in region 8 which is the Mountain West and the Dakotas.
I look forward to seeing cases and deaths continue to decline for the South. But as the weather turns colder elsewhere in the country, I think we may be looking at some challenging weeks to come elsewhere.
Unless otherwise noted, the source data for all of these graphs is from the Georgia Department of Public Health daily status report and the Georgia Geospatial Information Office COVID-19 Data Hub. Many thanks to the public health data heroes at these organizations for providing these data to the public on a near-daily basis. Not all states offer this level of transparency.
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My Ph.D. is in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and I am Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Saint Mary. I've worked at places like Creighton University, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Mercer University School of Medicine. All thoughts are my professional opinion, do not represent the views or opinions of my employer and should not be considered medical advice.