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New COVID-19 Report Shows Outbreak Continuing to Smolder

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The latest government COVID-19 tracking report shows that outbreak activity appears to be falling in most of the country, but that activity may be starting to creep back up in some states.

The number of patients seeking care for the disease from primary care offices, urgent care center, and hospital emergency rooms has fallen to a low level in most of the country.

But the number of patients seeking outpatient care for COVID-19 moved up some in Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

One sign of how rapidly COVID-19 was spreading a few weeks ago is that, in the week ending April 25, about 18% of all U.S. deaths were caused by COVID-19, or by something that looked an awful lot like COVID-19. That’s down from 25% for the weeks ending April 11 and April 18. But, in a normal week, fewer than 6% of deaths are caused by pneumonia or a flu-like illness.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began publishing the weekly COVID-19 tracking reports April 3.

Confirming COVID-19 cases with lab tests is still difficult and expensive, and many mild COVID-19 cases look like colds, flu or stomach bugs.

To make up for the problems with COVID-19 testing, the weekly COVID-19 tracking reports give outpatient visit numbers, hospitalization numbers and death numbers for pneumonia, influenza  and “influenza-like illnesses” as well as for laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Public health authorities define an “influenza-like illness” as a patient have a fever over 100 degrees, along with either a cough or a sore throat.

The CDC depends on states to collect and report the data, and it notes that the data for the latest few weeks may be especially incomplete.

The new report shows that the total number of U.S. deaths was a little below average from Feb. 1 through March 21, but that the total number of deaths might have started to rise significantly above the expected level during the week ending April 4.

CDC calculates the “expected” death level figures by looking at the weekly death figures for the previous three-year period The expected death total for a given week is the average number of deaths the CDC has recorded for the comparable week in the year over the previous three-year period.

The latest figures show that the total number of U.S. deaths from all causes increased to about 20% over the expected level in the week ending April 11, and about 15% over the expected level during the week ending April 18.

State-level figures for April 25 appear to be incomplete. State-level figures for the week ending April 18, which look somewhat more complete, and including New York City, show that the number of deaths in New York City was more than twice as high as the usual level.

The total number of deaths from all causes was also high in New York state as a whole, in New Jersey, and in Massachusetts.

For the country as a whole, for the entire period from Jan. 25 through April 18, the CDC has reports of a total of 692,949 deaths, compared with an expected total of about 686,000. For that period, for the whole country, the number of deaths the CDC has recorded is about 1% higher than the expected level.

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Deaths by Week

Ending Date COVID-19 Deaths Pneumonia Deaths Flu Deaths Pneumonia, Flu and COVID Deaths Total Deaths Percent of Expected Deaths
Feb. 1    -           3,688           469        4,157   57,266                97
Feb. 8    1           3,672           494        4,167   57,615                97
Feb. 15  -           3,693           517        4,210   56,878                97
Feb. 22  -          3,557           536        4,093   56,806                98
Feb. 29    5           3,626           619        4,247   56,843                99
March 7  25           3,719           583        4,312   56,212                97
March 14  49           3,676           578        4,277   53,968                95
March 21  493           4,150           496        4,907   53,979                95
March 28 2,712           5,624           410        7,463 57,430              103
April 4 8,082           8,724           432      13,148 64,313              115
April 11 12,262           9,841           430      16,744   66,577              120
April 18 10,408           7,606           215      13,663   55,062              101
April 25  3,271           2,806             67        4,777 26,489                49

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Deaths by State* (Week ending April 18)

State

COVID Deaths

Pneumonia Deaths

Total Deaths

Percent of Expected Deaths

Alabama 39 60 740 96%
Arizona 41 74 1,013 106%
California 362 573 5,063 102%
Colorado 147 132 932 109%
Delaware 18 10 111 90%
District of Columbia 17 23 96 98%
Florida 157 309 3,651 102%
Georgia 71 86 1,049 96%
Illinois 408 385 2,482 108%
Indiana 147 147 1,069 101%
Iowa 26 34 523 98%
Kansas 27 30 470 97%
Kentucky 35 51 579 91%
Louisiana 171 114 718 103%
Maryland 250 181 1,185 106%
Massachusetts 855 408 2,139 114%
Michigan 490 373 2,285 110%
Minnesota 61 82 831 102%
Mississippi 48 74 627 102%
Missouri 50 66 923 94%
Nevada 23 29 405 100%
New Hampshire 15 16 238 101%
New Jersey 1,571 970 3,619 135%
New Mexico 11 17 226 91%
New York 1,510 1,003 3,830 124%
New York City 2,772 1,082 4,595 224%
North Carolina 0 0 0 47%
Ohio 23 74 1,306 89%
Oklahoma 21 27 437 88%
Oregon 19 19 406 94%
Pennsylvania 556 359 2,917 82%
Rhode Island 17 10 76 88%
South Carolina 35 64 904 106%
Tennessee 21 85 1,255 100%
Texas 113 268 2,995 99%
Virginia 141 105 1,301 103%
Washington 41 63 765 100%
Wisconsin 48 47 909 104%
Puerto Rico 13 25 257 69%
UNITED STATES 10,408 7,606 55,062 101%
* This table leaves out states that had missing COVID-19 or pneumonia death data.

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