New CDC numbers show doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics and ERs in Idaho and Wisconsin saw more patients with COVID-19-like illnesses than they did last week…

This CDC map shows what was happening with COVID-19-like doctors’ office, urgent care clinic and ER visits in the week ending May 9.

Most of the United States looked as if it was beating COVID-19 in the week ending May 16, but the outbreak may be getting worse in Idaho and Wisconsin.

Doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics and hospital emergency rooms in Idaho and Wisconsin saw more patients with COVID-19 and COVID-19 look-alike illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia, in the week ending May 16 than in the week ending May 9.

Idaho rose to a moderate level of reported activity, from a low level of activity.

Wisconsin rose to a high level of reported activity, from a moderate level.

In most other states, the number of patients with COVID-19-like illnesses showing up “out in the community,” as opposed to already occupying beds in hospitals, either stayed at very low levels in both weeks or fell from low levels to the lowest intensity level.

Resources

  • The CDC’s weekly COVID-19 report is available here.
  • The CDC’s provisional COVID-19 mortality data table is available here.
  • An overview article about the latest weekly COVID-19 report is available here.

Public health specialists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have put new data on COVID-19 doctors’ office activity, hospitalizations and deaths in their latest COVID-19 report.

The CDC reports data on pneumonia and influenza-like illnesses, as well as on confirmed cases of influenza, in its weekly flu tracking reports, because many doctors treat flu without bothering to perform formal tests; because flu tests may miss some cases of the actual flu; and because public health officials also want to know if any flu-like illnesses that aren’t flu are making people sick.

Similarly, the CDC includes data on flu, flu-like illnesses, pneumonia and total deaths in the COVID-19 reports, to compensate for COVID-19 testing problems.

The CDC depends on state-level public health officials and other public and private public health system participants to report the data included in the tracking reports.

In some cases, for example, states are slow to report death data. Because of the death data reporting lag, the CDC shows that the number of deaths reported for the week ending May 16 is just 53% of what it might have expected, based on the three-year average for the deaths counts for the comparable weeks in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Other factors that could throw off the numbers could include the effects of outbreak control lockdowns on patients’ access to community-based health care; a change in doctors’ willingness to treat patients with COVID-19-like symptoms; and intentional or unintentional problems with collecting, preparing and reporting data to the CDC.

For the week ending May 2, for example, the CDC now says the total number of deaths for the week is 108% of the expected number. A week ago, the CDC was reporting that the number of deaths reported this year for the week ending May 2 was just 87% of the expected level.

One way to get around the death count lag is to look at the percentage of all deaths that appear to be caused by confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the percentage of deaths caused by both COVID-19 and COVID-19 look-alike illnesses.

For the week ending May 16, the percentage of all reported deaths caused by reported, confirmed cases of COVID-19 fell to 9%, from 15% the week before.

The percentage of all deaths caused by all COVID-19-like illnesses including flu and pneumonia, fell to 13%, from 19% the week before.

That’s the lowest level since March 21, but it’s still far above the epidemic threshold for the week, which is around 6%.

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COVID-19 Deaths Pneumonia Deaths Total Deaths COVID-19 Deaths As a Percentage of Total Deaths Pneumonia, Influenza and COVID-19 Deaths As a Percentage of Total Deaths
Feb. 1 0 3,713 57,584 0% 7%
Feb. 8 1 3,715 58,245 0% 7%
Feb. 15 0 3,747 57,585 0% 7%
Feb. 22 2 3,610 57,640 0% 7%
Feb. 29 5 3,727 57,956 0% 8%
Marc h 7 32 3,816 57,716 0% 8%
March 14 51 3,818 56,421 0% 8%
March 21 532 4,351 56,801 1% 9%
March 28 2,964 5,902 60,375 5% 13%
April 4 9,215 9,352 68,401 13% 21%
April 11 15,031 11,235 73,869 20% 27%
April 18 15,311 10,335 70,194 22% 27%
April 25 12,457 8,760 64,426 19% 25%
May 2 9,359 6,839 56,606 17% 22%
May 9 6,764 4,924 46,487 15% 19%
May 16 1,915 1,711 22,204 9% 13%

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Death Total Completeness
Total Reported Deaths as a Percentage of the Previous 3-Year Average
May 16 May 9 May 2
Feb. 1 97% 97% 97%
Feb. 8 97% 97% 97%
Feb. 15 98% 98% 97%
Feb. 22 99% 99% 98%
Feb. 29 101% 100% 99%
Marc h 7 100% 99% 98%
March 14 98% 98% 96%
March 21 99% 99% 97%
March 28 106% 106% 104%
April 4 120% 120% 118%
April 11 133% 131% 127%
April 18 130% 126% 118%
April 25 122% 112% 92%
May 2 108% 87% 39%
May 9 94% 50% NA
May 16 53% NA NA

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— Read The New COVID-19 Death Snapshoton ThinkAdvisor.

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