COVID-19 case count and hospital bed utilization indicators seem to be improving, but, for issuers of life insurance and annuities, the big question is what’s really happening with death.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has supplemented the COVID-19 outbreak tracking indicators developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which seem to show that overall outbreak activity is low, with a new COVID-19 hospital capacity utilization map.
The new HHS map seems to confirm what local public health officials, hospital administrators and news organizations are saying: People with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 are filling 10% or more hospital beds throughout most of the South and Southwest.
But the current map, based on hospitalization capacity utilization data reported as of Aug.3, looks a lot better than the capacity utilization map from a a week ago, which was based on data reported as of July 23.
- The CDC’s weekly COVID-19 report is available here.
- The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic is available here.
- The HHS hospital capacity data is available here.
- An overview article about the COVID-19 data for the previous week is available here.
Other organizations appear to be reporting a similar drop in hospital capacity utilization.
The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic, for example, says the number of hospital beds filled with patients with COVID-19 dropped to 53,303 Aug. 3, from 59,023 a week earlier.
CDC officials reported in July that the median length of stay for a patient who entered a U.S. hospital and died of COVID-19 was about five days, but other studies have reported median lengths of stay of two weeks or more.
That means states with peak COVID-19 hospitalization rates a week or two ago may be starting to experience high COVID-19 mortality levels now.
The COVID-19 mortality level in a state depends partly on the age of the people in the state who get COVID-19 as well as the number of people infected, because older people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than younger people are.
A comparison of COVID-19 death counts for the week ending Aug. 7 with cumulative death counts reported as of June 30 suggest that some states with very high hospital capacity utilization levels, such as Texas, are now facing rapid increases in the number of deaths.
But some states without obvious spikes in COVID-19-related hospital utilization, such as Idaho and Montana, also appear to be facing big increases in the number of new COVID-19 deaths, relative to the June 30 baseline.
When U.S. life insurers released their earnings for the second quarter, the figures appeared to imply that life insurers could face roughly $2 billion in life insurance claims per 100,000 COVID-19-related U.S. deaths.
Percentage Change in COVID-19 Death Counts
|Total Deaths, June 30||New deaths reported for the week ending Aug. 7||Deaths in the week ending Aug. 7, as a percentage of the deaths recorded June 30||Population||Deaths for the week ending Aug. 7, per 100,000 people|
|District of Columbia||551||4||0.7%||705,749||0.57|
— Read COVID-19 Might Have Caused $2 Billion in U.S. Life Claims So Far, on ThinkAdvisor.