The Daily Digest, 22Feb2021
Georgia COVID-19 Updates
We can see how the US (and Georgia) is doing with respect to the vaccine administration effort using the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker understanding that delayed reporting can affect the numbers. Nationally, 83.8% of the available doses have been administered, either as a first or second dose. And Georgia’s usage rate is just behind the national rate, 80.7%, according to the CDC. Some of the more successful states, such as West Virginia and New Mexico, have used 98% of the doses that have been delivered. While we wait for supply to increase, it is vital that we make the most use of the vaccine we *do* have. Of those who have started the vaccine series in the US, 43% have had their second dose (last week 37%).
Georgia’s 1+ dose vaccination rate has increased 17% in the past week, which is good news but not as good as the previous week (+13%). In Georgia, 609,520 people have completed the 2-dose series in Georgia (5.7% of the GA population). The low end estimate for achieving herd immunity is 70%. So we’re still a long way off. It is great to see that upward momentum. When considering the rankings between states for people receiving at least 1 dose per 100,000 people, Georgia is in nearly the same position as last week - #47 this week compared to #46 last week, with a 1+ dose vaccination rate that is 11,325 per 100,000 residents. The top three states for first doses administered per 100,000 residents are Alaska (20826), New Mexico (18830) and South Dakota (17723). The bottom three states are Tennessee (11090), Utah (11116) and Texas (11268). This week, Georgia has administered 1+ doses per 100,000 at a rate that is 84% less than the leader (Alaska). Last week the difference was 44% higher. So either Alaska is doing REALLY well or Georgia is doing poorly.
According to the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease has sickened >111.4 million people (+2.5 million since last week) and killed at least 2,466,900 (+65,800 in the past week) worldwide as of this morning.
We are ranked #38 in the world for average daily case rate per 100,000 people over the past 7 days (last week #24) with a rate of 20 compared to 27 last week. So our case rate has improved. The top five countries for average daily case rate per 100,000 in the past week are Czech Republic, San Marino, Seychelles, Montenegro, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
For deaths, the US average daily death rate per 100,000 over the past week is 0.58 (previous week was 0.78), and we are ranked #18 in the world for this (last week we were ranked #14). The top five countries for average daily death rate per 100,000 in the most recent week are Gibraltar, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Montenegro and Lithuania.
The United States
The map above comes from the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker. As of this morning, there have been over 28.1 million cases (+500,000 in the past week) and 498,654 deaths in the US (+13,500 in past week). We will most likely cross 500,000 deaths today. Keep in mind that both of these numbers are probably an under-count of the situation in our country.
According to data from the 21Feb2021 HHS Community Profile Report (the source document for the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports), the top five states in the nation for new case rate per 100,000 residents are South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and North Carolina. Georgia is ranked #6. The top five states in the nation for new death rate per 100,000 in the past 7 days are Delaware, Kansas, Georgia, Rhode Island and Arizona.
The table below tells you where we are this week and how that compares to the previous week (in parentheses). The data for everything comes from the HHS Community Profile Report from 21Feb2021.
Georgia has the top spot for the percentage of hospitalized patients who are being treated for COVID-19, tied with New York. In fact, the Georgia number (14%) is more than twice as high as the national average. We are in the top 10 for case rate and death rate, despite our improvements. That means that even though things are getting better for cases, they are getting better to greater degrees for other states. And other states are seeing their deaths drop off whereas Georgia is not. Test output bounced back after a 45% decrease the previous week.
I’m sharing the map that’s formatted the same way as the Brown University School of Public Health tool but includes Georgia’s antigen cases. This week there are 61 counties in the red category, 80 in the orange category and 17 in the yellow category. You can click on the map below to see the live image that allows you to click/hover over your county. Many of the red counties are clustered together but overall the state is improving quite a lot compared to recent weeks.
Let’s discuss today’s numbers for Georgia.
Testing: a really low day for PCR testing, lower than most Mondays we’ve had recently. There were 15,053 new PCR results reported, 9.9% of which were positive. There were 2910 new antigen tests reported today and 10.5% were positive.
Cases: cases are often lower on Mondays due to weekend effect. Today there was a net increase of 1536 newly reported cases (1307 by PCR, 229 by antigen test).
In Friday’s newsletter, I focused on Vaccines Q&A, but the School Aged Surveillance Data report came out that day too. Most trends are going down for children, however the graph below for the number of clusters of COVID-19 associated with schools and daycare centers continues to increase. There’s a substantial delay on this, due to the incubation time of the virus and the time it takes to connect the dots during contact trace investigation to link a cluster of illnesses to the school setting. So it looks like the surge happens later on this graph than we saw with cases, but I think that’s an artifact of the issues I outlined above. In any case, seeing that there were >50 outbreaks associated with a school setting in a single week is kind of a big deal. It would also seem to contradict the idea that transmission doesn’t happen in schools. I discussed the CDC’s most recent guidance on school reopening in this newsletter from last week.
If you’d like to see how the Georgia counties are doing in terms of CDC’s school reopening criteria, I have the maps updated for test positivity and case rate. Remember, you want to be in the blue or yellow category for both maps. If the two maps don’t agree for your county, you’re supposed to use the higher of the two rankings. Using these criteria, there are only five counties in Georgia where test positivity AND case rate are in the low - moderate categories that are compatible with safe school reopening and they are all clustered in the southwest corner of the state. They are Worth, Baker, Miller, Seminole and Clay counties.
Hospitalizations: Usually we see small numbers for the weekend that show up on Sunday and Monday. However, this week the weekend numbers are larger than normal and more reminiscent of what we saw during the height of the winter surge. There were 130 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 today (last week, 24) and 4 admissions to the ICU. I’m not sure what these larger than typical weekend numbers mean. We are seeing multiple hospital regions that have sort of leveled off on their decrease when it comes to patient census (how many of their patients are being treated for COVID-19). An example of this, for Hospital Region G (Augusta and surrounding counties) is shown below with an arrow comparing where things are now compared to before the winter surge. Hopefully these are momentary pauses before continued declines. But seeing the weekend numbers higher than usual this week will make me look at the regional patient census numbers really carefully in the coming days. We do not want the descent from the winter surge to bottom out here. We need for things to continue decreasing.
According to the HHS Community Profile Report, the Georgia counties with the highest COVID-19 admission rate per 100 beds are Evans, Peach, Troup, Decatur and Baldwin.
Deaths: there were 56 newly reported confirmed deaths compared to yesterday’s total and 35 probable deaths. Death reporting on Mondays is typically low due to weekend effect. But 56 is high for a Monday. For today’s deaths, 38% came from nonrural counties and 27% came from rural counties. The state 7-day death rate per 100,000 residents is 8.6% higher than the summer peak.
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My Ph.D. is in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. 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 and should not be considered medical advice.