For the last two weeks (ending August 29), the national COVID metrics showed continued improvement.
The testing levels continue to average a little over 700,000 per day. The positivity rate has been gradually but steadily declining since early July. Last week’s rate of 5.51% was the lowest since CDC Week 25 which ended on June 20. As a result, the number of positive test results fell from an average of about 53,000 per day in the previous two-week period, to just over 42,000 per day in the last two weeks.
The controversy around testing continues. The latest is this somewhat surprising article in the New York Times which questions whether the viral tests are too sensitive, identifying people who are carrying such small amounts of the virus that they may not be contagious. As I have cautioned on several occasions now, I have very little faith in the testing numbers.
Fatalities eased some as well, from just over 1,000 per day to just below that number. The reporting issues around fatalities appear to be gradually getting resolved, as there have not been any obvious aberrations from “catch-up” data over the last two weeks.
The four-week lagging case fatality rate has now been below 2% for the entire month of August and hit a new low over the last week of 1.48%.
The news from the hospitals was also quite encouraging for the past two weeks as total hospitalizations, ICU bed occupancy and ventilator use all dropped almost 20%. Hospitalizations and ICU bed usage were down by a third for the month.
The ratio of cumulative hospitalizations to cumulative positive test results continued to fall. At the end of the two-week period it was 6.25%, less than half the high point back in April.
Bottom line is that the numbers are all moving in the right direction for the last two weeks, although you likely would not know that from watching media, especially CNN, which frankly is just blatantly misrepresenting the numbers at this point.
Of course, there is a lot of concern about a potential resurgence in infections with schools restarting. That is something we will have to watch carefully over the next few weeks.