Following a late-summer lull in the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of infections has resumed its increase in the United States and is poised to intensify in the coming weeks, RSM’s modeling shows.
This comes as the number of coronavirus deaths will soon pass a grim milestone: 200,000 in the United States since the first death was recorded in February. That’s out of the 6.8 million cases of U.S. coronavirus infections, according to the Worldometer database.
The number of deaths will soon pass 200,000 in the United States since the first was recorded in February.
Most disturbing, the trend in newly reported cases of coronavirus infections moved higher over the past week to an average of 40,000 per day, as the first figure below shows. Given that many of those new cases were centered on students returning to college and late-summer gatherings in the upper Midwest, our model now anticipates the cumulative number of cases to exceed the 7 million mark over the next two weeks, as shown in the second figure.
In the third figure, we show that the rate of deaths has decelerated from the initial onslaught of the coronavirus. As we’ve reported, this deceleration is attributed to the younger age of newly infected people (nursing homes remain locked down) and to the accumulated knowledge of the medical community. But we always are sensitive to put that in the context of what the medical community continues to remind us: The deaths always lag.
In line with the recent increase in cases, however, deaths from COVID-19 infections are once again moving higher, at an average rate of 820 per day.
Seven months of the spread, in two charts
We have divided the states into two groups, according to the sequencing of infections during the pandemic. The first group consists of the six states with major metropolitan areas that bore the initial brunt of infections from January through April. We have labeled them as the “major” states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California.
As the first figure below indicates, infections in the six major states peaked in early April at 19,000 cases per day, before falling to 5,500 per day by mid-June. New infections moved higher again during the summer months, mostly due to increased activity in California. Newly reported infections in the major states are now averaging 7,700 per day, with California accounting for 45% of all new cases.
The second group consists of the “all other” states, into which the virus spread down the I-95 corridor and across the South and Southwest. Florida and Texas account for 30% of that spread, with infections now moving north from the Sun Belt into the interior states in the Midwest and Upper Midwest.
The second figure shows that the spread of infections in all-other states accelerated after the Memorial Day weekend, peaking at 50,000 new cases per day after the July 4th weekend as populations lowered their guard and flocked to the beaches and bars. Newly reported cases in the all-other state category are now averaging more than 31,700 per day.
A timeline of deaths
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 infections peaked in the six major states on April 18, reaching 1,500 per day. By July, COVID-19 deaths in those states had receded to fewer than 200 per day. (Note that New Jersey reclassified 2,000 deaths on June 25, which accounts for the odd-looking spike in the first chart below.)
In the second chart, we show the deaths in the all-other states grouping. COVID-19 deaths in these states increased after the July 4th weekend, peaking along with the increased spread of the virus across the South and Southwest. Deaths in these states surpassed 900 per day in the first weeks of August before receding to 675 per day in the latest week.
State-by-state growth rates
In the following table, we show the state-by-state weekly growth rate of infections since:
- The reopening of local economies around May 1, which was likely to increase the exposure of the public to infected people in commercial locations.
- The unofficial opening of summer vacation on the Memorial Day weekend, which increased exposure at rest stops, lakes, beaches and camp sites. During the eight weeks of summer, we were bound to run into the effects of a quarter of the American public spending a two-week vacation away from home.
Of the six major states, only California, with a 3.1% average weekly growth rate, and Pennsylvania, with a 0.9% weekly growth rate, are reporting an increasing number of cases since Memorial Day. Cases in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are decreasing at roughly 5% per week.
Nationally, 38 states are reporting increasing average weekly growth rates since the Memorial Day weekend, as listed in the table below.
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