Because of testing limitations, the CDC uses 'flu-like illness' numbers to track the COVID-19 pandemic. Activity is now at a moderate level, or lower, in most of the country. But look at the mortality chart...

This CDC chart shows that the percentage of all U.S. deaths caused by COVID-19 and similar -looking illnesses soared to 4 times the usual level in the week ending April 11, and was still 3 times usual level the following week. Here are the 5 states, and a ringer, where COVID-19 accounted for the highest percentage of all deaths reported for the latest week...

5. Michigan: 5.16%

(Credit for flag images: WPClipart.com)

4. Louisiana: 5.33%

3. Massachusetts: 6.53%

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2. New York state: 12.40%

1. New Jersey: 13.53%

But wait, there's one more...

New York City: 31.08%

One sign that New York City's numbers reflect a real COVID-19 surge, not just aggressive testing, is that the city's total number of deaths from all causes was twice the expected number.

The latest government COVID-19 pandemic report shows that new activity for COVID-19 and look-alike illnesses continued to slow during the week ending April 18, but that those illnesses still accounted for an extremely high percentage of all reported deaths.

 

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Because tests for COVID-19 are still hard to get, and because most mildly symptomatic cases of COVID-19 look roughly like the flu, or like cases of ordinary viral pneumonia caused by viruses other than the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supplements the COVID-19 data in the weekly pandemic reports with data for pneumonia and “influenza-like illnesses.”

To deal with the possibility that some new, unknown or unnoticed illness could be causing problems, the CDC also includes the same kind of data on “influenza and influenza-like illnesses” in its weekly flu reports, along with data on the total number of deaths from all causes.

The numbers for the latest two or three weeks are usually incomplete, because some states take longer to send their data to the CDC than others.

The latest COVID-19 report includes an influenza-like illness activity map showing that most of the United States has low or minimal levels of influenza-like, and that most states with changing activity levels are moving toward having lower illness activity levels.

Much more of the activity appears to be due to COVID-19 than to true influenza, becauses, since the week ending March 7, the CDC has recorded 24,550 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, and just 2,971 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu.

New Jersey continues to have extremely high activity levels, Wisconsin continues to have moderately high levels of activity, and Idaho has moved from having a moderate level of activity to having a somewhat higher level of activity.

The death numbers, which typically reflect the results of illnesses that started two to four weeks in the past, tell a different story.

They show that deaths recorded as being caused by COVID-19, other flu-like illnesses and pneumonia amounted to about 22% of all U.S. deaths in the week ending April 11, which is four times the usual level, is higher than the CDC has shown on charts going back to the early 1990s, and might be the highest since at least the 1968 flu pandemic.

For a map, a chart and state mortality figures based on the new COVID-19 report, see the slideshow above. (Wiggle your pointer over the first slide to make the control arrows show up.)

For the provisional state mortality data for the week ending April 18, see the table below.

 

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Jurisdiction of Occurrence COVID-19 Deaths Deaths from All Causes Total Deaths As a Percent of Expected Deaths COVID-19 Deaths As a Percent of Deaths From All Causes All Pneumonia Deaths
United States 24,555 654,798 96 3.75% 54,962
Alabama 113 11,553 90 0.98% 714
Alaska - 789 78 NA 37
Arizona 156 14,756 101 1.06% 1,034
Arkansas 19 7,245 94 0.26% 485
California 813 64,633 97 1.26% 5,437
Colorado 392 9,936 103 3.95% 838
Connecticut - 461 0 NA 29
Delaware 28 1,939 77 1.44% 108
District of Columbia 44 1,331 89 3.31% 146
Florida 674 50,784 99 1.33% 3,640
Georgia 335 18,158 88 1.84% 1,167
Hawaii - 2,656 92 NA 182
Idaho 38 3,393 97 1.12% 185
Illinois 748 26,345 103 2.84% 2,269
Indiana 238 15,292 92 1.56% 1,299
Iowa 48 6,906 94 0.70% 493
Kansas 39 6,041 92 0.65% 407
Kentucky 70 9,957 84 0.70% 885
Louisiana 538 10,099 91 5.33% 668
Maine 26 3,562 99 0.73% 302
Maryland 444 12,494 102 3.55% 1,100
Massachusetts 1,016 15,550 105 6.53% 1,638
Michigan 1,264 24,499 103 5.16% 2,188
Minnesota 100 10,496 99 0.95% 762
Mississippi 117 7,408 97 1.58% 644
Missouri 117 14,006 89 0.84% 878
Montana - 2,248 90 NA 132
Nebraska 21 3,696 90 0.57% 285
Nevada 99 6,003 95 1.65% 484
New Hampshire 42 2,974 99 1.41% 203
New Jersey 3,018 22,310 123 13.53% 3,031
New Mexico 28 4,003 85 0.70% 281
New York 3,567 28,773 118 12.40% 4,246
New York City 8,073 25,978 198 31.08% 4,741
North Carolina 0 9,131 38 0.00% 557
North Dakota - 1,504 86 NA 135
Ohio 168 24,258 80 0.69% 1,382
Oklahoma 74 8,163 83 0.91% 717
Oregon 58 7,804 88 0.74% 417
Pennsylvania 690 25,641 77 2.69% 1,794
Rhode Island 31 2,075 80 1.49% 108
South Carolina 103 12,063 100 0.85% 720
South Dakota - 1,814 90 NA 143
Tennessee 107 17,104 95 0.63% 1,289
Texas 256 44,867 92 0.57% 3,274
Utah 18 4,427 93 0.41% 262
Vermont 35 1,461 101 2.40% 99
Virginia 131 16,252 97 0.81% 864
Washington 463 13,384 97 3.46% 1,109
West Virginia - 4,647 84 NA 332
Wisconsin 159 12,869 100 1.24% 739
Wyoming - 1,060 97 NA 83
Puerto Rico 52 4,732 68 1.10% 664
The CDC notes that there is often a lag in reporting deaths and putting them in the mortality data, and that it leaves out the information when a cell would contain a number lower than 10. The “percent of expected deaths” column reflects the number of all deaths reported for the week ending April 18 when compared with the average for the comparable week of the year in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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