Although this map, based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Capacity Data, shows that people with COVID-19 are occupying many inpatient hospital beds in the South...

...the new map looks a lot better than the map from last week. But...

...this map, based on death count data from The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic, suggests that increased mortality could be a problem in some states, such as Idaho and Montana, without sky-high COVID-19 hospital capacity utilization rates.

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.

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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.

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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
Alabama                 950                155 16.3% 4,903,185 3.16
Alaska                   14                     2 14.3% 731,545 0.27
Arizona             1,632                387 23.7% 7,278,717 5.32
Arkansas                 270                   68 25.2% 3,017,804 2.25
California             5,980             1,006 16.8% 39,512,223 2.55
Colorado             1,508                   38 2.5% 5,758,736 0.66
Connecticut             4,322                     9 0.2% 3,565,287 0.25
Delaware                 509                     3 0.6% 973,764 0.31
District of Columbia                 551                    4 0.7% 705,749 0.57
Florida             3,604             1,085 30.1% 21,477,737 5.05
Georgia             2,805                365 13.0% 10,617,423 3.44
Hawaii                   18                     3 16.7% 1,415,872 0.21
Idaho                   91                   46 50.5% 1,787,065 2.57
Illinois             7,124                130 1.8% 12,671,821 1.03
Indiana             2,640                   58 2.2% 6,732,219 0.86
Iowa                 715                   46 6.4% 3,155,070 1.46
Kansas                 270                   22 8.1% 2,913,314 0.76
Kentucky                 565                   29 5.1% 4,467,673 0.65
Louisiana             3,221                258 8.0% 4,648,794 5.55
Maine                 105                     1 1.0% 1,344,212 0.07
Maryland             3,190                   72 2.3% 6,045,680 1.19
Massachusetts             8,054                100 1.2% 6,892,503 1.45
Michigan             6,193                   74 1.2% 9,986,857 0.74
Minnesota             1,476                   41 2.8% 5,639,632 0.73
Mississippi             1,073                185 17.2% 2,976,149 6.22
Missouri             1,015                   58 5.7% 6,137,428 0.95
Montana                   22                   10 45.5% 1,068,778 0.94
Nebraska                 269                   12 4.5% 1,934,408 0.62
Nevada                 507                   90 17.8% 3,080,156 2.92
New Hampshire                 367      4 1.1% 1,359,711 0.29
New Jersey           15,029                   63 0.4% 8,882,190 0.71
New Mexico                 493                   34 6.9% 2,096,829 1.62
New York           24,855                   40 0.2% 19,453,561 0.21
North Carolina             1,343                210 15.6% 10,488,084 2.00
North Dakota                   78                     3 3.8% 762,062 0.39
Ohio             2,863                163 5.7% 11,689,100 1.39
Oklahoma                 387                   59 15.2% 3,956,971 1.49
Oregon                 207                  26 12.6% 4,217,737 0.62
Pennsylvania             6,649                108 1.6% 12,801,989 0.84
Rhode Island                 950                    7 0.7% 1,059,361 0.66
South Carolina                 739                250 33.8% 5,148,714 4.86
South Dakota                   91                   14 15.4% 884,659 1.58
Tennessee                 604                146 24.2% 6,829,174 2.14
Texas             2,424             1,527 63.0% 28,995,881 5.27
Utah                 172                   31 18.0% 3,205,958 0.97
Vermont                   56                     1 1.8% 623,989 0.16
Virginia             1,763                143 8.1% 8,535,519 1.68
Washington             1,320                   89 6.7% 7,614,893 1.17
West Virginia                   93                   11 11.8% 1,792,147 0.61
Wisconsin                 784                   56 7.1% 5,822,434 0.96
Wyoming                   20                     2 10.0% 578,759 0.35
MEDIAN                 784                   56 10%   0.96

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