The summer wave of COVID-19 appears to have caused a sharp increase in total death counts in many states.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tries to report early death counts quickly, but it takes weeks to get and process complete death data.
The most recent week that appears to have reasonably complete death data is the week ending Aug. 22. In that week, 35 states had total death counts that were at least 10% higher than the expected level.
- The Dynata COVID-19 symptom maps and charts are available here.
- The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic is available here.
- The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center numbers are available here.
- The CDC’s weekly COVID-19 report 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.
The CDC comes up with the expected death count for a week by calculating the average number of deaths in a state, for that week in the year, for the previous three years.
The ratio was at least 1.36 to 1 in five states, meaning that, in at least five states, the total number of deaths was 36% higher than expected average.
The average ratio for the United States was 1.14 to one.
The United States normally averages about 2,7 million deaths per year. If the number of total deaths stayed more than 14% above average for the entire year, due to the direct effects of COVID-19, and the effects of the pandemic on the U.S. economy and U.S. health care system, then it’s possible that the pandemic could lead, directly or indirectly, to about a 400,000 increase in the total number of deaths for the year.
COVID-19 trackers recently reported that they believe the United States has already recorded about 200,000 deaths resulting directly from COVID-19.
The actual numbers could be higher than the current CDC numbers. Some current and former CDC officials have accused other officials of trying to manipulate the CDC’s COVID-19 tracking data, to reduce the apparent severity of the pandemic.
The most serious modern viral epidemic to hit the United States, the 1918 influenza pandemic, caused about 600,000 deaths, in a population of 100 million. That would be the equivalent of a pandemic causing about 2 million deaths in the United States today.
But the other major flu pandemics, such as the 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic, appear to have to caused fewer than 120,000 deaths in the United States.
The Dynata Data
Dynata, a data firm, powers many website instant survey programs. In place of its regular surveys, it serves some site users a COVID-19 symptom survey.
The company than feeds the survey data into a free, public — but copyrighted — tracking dashboard.
The percentage of Dynata survey participants ages 18 to 24 who said they had a dry cough with loss of the sense of smell or taste was 3% for the two-week period ending Sept. 25, That’s down from 3.1% for the two-week period ending Sept. 18, as many college students with in-person classes started heading to campus.
The number of states where 3.5% or more of the college-age Dynata survey takers said they had COVID-19-like symptoms fell to four, from five for the two-week period ending Sept. 18.
College-age survey taker symptom rates were highest in Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota and South Dakota. In South Dakota, 22% of the 60 survey respondents in the 18-24 age group said they had a dry cough with loss of the sense of taste or smell. The second worst-hit state, Nevada, had a symptom report rate of 5% for that age group.
Some COVID-19 watchers say the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day event that started Aug. 7 in Sturgis, South Dakota, may have contributed to a sharp increase in the infection rate in South Dakota. The event attracted about 460,000 attendees, according to the South Dakota State News. The IA Institute of Labor Economics has predicted that the rally will eventually cause about 250,000 cases of COVID-19, with the rally infecting some attendees directly; those attendees transmitting the virus that causes the disease to other people; and the people with indirect exposure than transmitting the virus in their own communities.
The ThinkAdvisor Campus COVID-19 Dashboard Tracker
Some colleges and universities report daily COVID-19 test results on dashboard websites.
Campus tracking numbers are of interest because some pandemic trackers say schools could produce a big fall COVID-19 wave.
We created a table using one-day test results, for Sept. 25, from dashboards that reported both test counts and positive results counts.
For the 18 colleges and universities in our table, the total number of tests reported increased to 32,574, from 30,365. The number of samples found to show signs of COVID-19 fell to 289, from 453.
Some schools increased the amount of data reported for Sept. 18 between last week and this week.
The percentage of test samples found to show signs of COVID-19 fell to 0.9% for the Sept. 25 test data, from 1.4% for the Sept. 18 test data. Only a small number of colleges and universities report daily test totals and positive results counts on a web dashboard. The positivity rates at the schools with daily results on a dashboard may be different from the results at the typical college or university. But the results appear to suggest that schools that are tracking COVID-19 carefully might have a shot at getting the spread of the virus that causes the disease under control.
U.S. University COVID-19 Case Tracker (Results for Sept. 25)
|School||Tests||Positive||% Positive, Sept. 25||% Positive, Sept. 18|
|Arizona, University of||1,051||36||3.4%||6.1%|
|California at Berkeley, University of||1,244||1||0.1%||0.2%|
|Colorado, University of||957||77||8.0%||10.2%|
|George Washington University||276||-||0.0%||0.0%|
|Illinois, University of||11,090||41||0.4%||0.3%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||3,168||1||0.0%||0.1%|
|Miami, University of||581||3||0.5%||0.7%|
|Michigan Technological University||181||4||2.2%||5.2%|
|Nebraska-Lincoln, University of||97||9||9.3%||12.6%|
|Ohio State University||2,798||37||1.3%||2.2%|
|Rhode Island School of Design||153||-||0.0%||0.0%|
|State University of New York system||4,466||32||0.7%||0.3%|
|Wisconsin, University of||1,658||22||1.3%||4.9%|
Ratio of All Reported Deaths to Expected Deaths
|(as of Aug. 22)|
|State||COVID-19 Deaths||Pneumonia, Influenza, or COVID-19 Deaths||Total Deaths||RATIO of Total Deaths to Expected Deaths|
|District of Columbia||11||16||101||0.92|
|New York City||20||77||960||0.99|
— Read Club Vita Forms COVID-19 Lifespan Impact Research Panel, on ThinkAdvisor.