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Task Force Reports COVID-19 Death Rate Increase

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The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to get worse, but it might be getting worse more slowly.

(Related: Task Force Adds Intensity Level to COVID-19 Death Map)

The White House Coronavirus Task Force pandemic tracking team has put new pandemic intensity data in an update for the week ending Dec. 18.

Here’s what happened to key national COVID-19 indicators between the week ending Dec. 11 and the week ending Dec. 18:

  • New Cases per 100,000 People: 462 (up from 451 last week, and from 385 two weeks ago)
  • Percentage of People Tested Who Had COVID-19:  11.5% (Unchanged)
  • COVID-19 Deaths per 100,000: 5.5 (up from 5.1 last week, and from 4.2 two weeks ago)
  • Nursing Homes With 1 or More New Resident COVID-19 Deaths: 16% (up from 14% last week, and from 11% two weeks ago)

Three of those four key indicators moved in the wrong direction.

Five states — South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania — had death rates of at least 15.1 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 lives in the latest week, up from three states in the previous week.

But the rate of change in the three indicators was smaller than the rate of change between the week ending Dec. 4 and the week ending Dec.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people has the most direct effect on issuers of life insurance and mortality. The change in that indicator fell to 0.4 deaths per 100,000 lives, from 0.9 deaths per 100,000 lives.

Another indicator, the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 lives, may go up as a result of increased COVID-19 testing efforts, but it also can be an early warning sign that waves of new hospitalizations and new deaths are coming.

The week-over-week change in the new case  indicator fell to 11 in the new report, from 66 in the report for the week ending Dec. 11.

The tracking team said in state summaries that hospitals in some states continue to face severe strain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage of hospitals reporting supply shortages fell to 20%, from 23%, but the percentage reporting staffing shortages held steady at 26%.

States in the Northern Plains, the Upper Midwest, the Heartland and the Rocky Mountain states continue to see intensity improvements, but “this is being directly offset by significant deterioration along both coasts, across the Sunbelt, and into Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana,” officials said. “This surge must be met with aggressive public mitigation.”

One concern is a post-Christmas and post-Kwanzaa surge, officials said.

— Read 5 Large Cities That Top a CDC COVID-19 Worry Liston ThinkAdvisor.

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