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This Week’s COVID Numbers Are a Mixed Bag

September 17, 2021  ||  by Matt Albasi

It’s a mixed bag of COVID news this week: Nationally, overall illness stats looked promising, with COVID cases and hospitalizations both decreasing. And while this is excellent news, the declining numbers obscure a more significant illness trend. Many regions across the country see increasing levels of illness. The downward trend in overall numbers is due to illness levels decreasing in highly-populated and hard-hit areas like Florida, California and Texas.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) divides the country into ten regions, with a regional HHS office located in each. Kinsa’s data show that from July through August, the number of people with a fever increased in every HHS region in the country. The rate of increase varied, with areas around Missouri, Florida and Texas (regions 4, 6, and 7) becoming more ill very rapidly while other regions like the Northeast and Midwest (regions 1, 2 and 3) experienced a more steady increase.

After the beginning of September, fevers in the states with the highest illness levels began to decline. In particular, regions 4, 6 and 7, which were hardest hit by the Delta variant, saw fevers decline by around twenty percent. But the decreases were not universal. Most regions are still getting more ill, and for some areas, it’s happening quickly.

Graphs showing illness levels for all 10 HSS regions from July to September 15

Fever levels continue to climb in the Northeast and Mountain West, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Though Kinsa’s real-time illness data is a distinct dataset and separate from the data aggregated by the CDC, Kinsa’s fever data mirrors the CDC’s COVID data in nine of ten regions when we zoom in past the sunnier, national portrait. 

While it’s easy to look at the top-line COVID numbers and think the whole country is getting better, this is sadly not yet the case. If you live in regions where illness is increasing, take proper precautions to limit the spread of illness. You can use tried and tested protocols like social distancing and mask-wearing to keep yourself and your community safe.

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