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Forecasters Predict COVID-19 Case Counts Will Keep Falling

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What You Need to Know

  • Pandemic intensity indicators are improving rapidly.
  • The new case rate is still about as high as it was in the fall.
  • The information about cases involving “variants” is still scanty.

Forecasters are predicting that U.S. COVID-19 case counts and the U.S. COVID-19 death numbers will continue to improve over the next four weeks.

Most of the forecasters in the COVID-19 Forecast Hub system say weekly new case counts will be somewhere between 350,000 and 450,000 over the next four weeks, compared with an actual number of about 477,000 recorded during the week that ended March 1.

The forecasters are predicting the number of deaths per week will fall to about 6,000 to 8,000, from about 14,000 per week, over that same four-week period.

The forecast hub, a nonprofit program created by volunteers, gives users a way to chart the results from dozens of COVID-19 forecasters’ prediction models.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes charts based on forecast hub data in its COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review reports.

Pandemic Intensity Data

Here’s what happened to some of the federal government’s national COVID-19 pandemic intensity indicators between the week ending Feb. 19 and the week ending Feb. 26, according to another government COVID-19 tracking report, the latest COVID-19 State Profile Report set.

  • New Cases per 100,000 People: 142 (down from 144)
  • Percentage of People Tested Who Had COVID-19: 5.1% (down from 5.8%)
  • New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions per 100 Beds: 6 (about the same)
  • COVID-19 Deaths per 100,000: 4.5 (up from 4.4)
  • Nursing Homes With 1 or More New Resident COVID-19 Deaths: 4% (down from 6%)

Although many COVID-19 indicators stayed about the same between the week ending Feb. 19 and the week ending Feb. 26, the COVID-19 nursing home death report figure was much better. That could be a sign that COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in nursing homes are starting to reduce the effects of the pandemic on nursing homes.

Although the intensity indicators look much better than they did during the most recent big wave of COVID-19 cases, which crested in January, the numbers look worse they did in the summer.

The COVID-19 death rate, for example, has fallen to about 2,000 per day, from 3,500 per day a few weeks ago. But that compares with an average death rate of about 1,000 or fewer deaths per day on most days from June 2020 through early November 2020.

Variants

The CDC has started to publish some variant data in the COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review, but the officials who compile the weekly review say the variant picture will likely change as more labs sequence more samples.

A variant is a mutated form of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC says it has records for 2,591 reported cases involving well-known variants from the United Kingdom, Africa and Brazil.

The CDC is not yet including any data on the homegrown U.S. variants that have evolved in California, Ohio and New York state.