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5 Worst Cities for COVID-19 Case Count Trends

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Many U.S. COVID-19 indicators are looking great — but one hot question is whether we already have cases of the same omicron variant now making people sick in and around Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital cities.

For now, the best public domain tracking indicator available to life insurers and financial professionals may be the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s local case count numbers.

The latest COVID-19 Community Profile Report, which is produced by public health specialists at the CDC and another federal agency, shows that the overall number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people fell to 504,056 in the week ending Nov. 28, down 21% from the total for the previous week.

But, at the metropolitan area level, week-over-week changes ranged from a drop of 100% to an increase of 12%.

The five metro areas with increases might be good places to hunt for omicron variant cases.

The Omicron Variant

The COVID-19 has killed about 800,000 people in the United States, or about on in every 400 people.

The pandemic has killed about 90,000 people in South Africa, or about one in 667 of the people who live there.

Pandemic trackers in South Africa were able to detect the worrisome variant quickly, because they have a large program for sequencing the genes in COVID-19 test samples.

Unlike the United States, South Africa also has a large, systematic program for detecting changes in COVID-19 early, by testing wastewater throughout the country for signs of COVID-19.

No one is sure how quite how dangerous the omicron variant is, but public health officials in South Africa can say that the COVID-19 wastewater test results for an area that includes Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital, suddenly began to how a big increase in signs of COVID-19 about two weeks ago, and that the increase in signs of COVID-19 in the wastewater coincided with an increase in the number of patients entering that area’s hospitals with new cases of COVID-19.

The U.S. New COVID-19 Case Numbers, by Metropolitan Area

Changes in the number of new cases reported could be due to anything from an actual change in the number of cases, to new school or workplace testing programs, to the number of local epidemiologists who are out sick.

But, because the time from developing a scratchy throat from the virus that causes COVID-19 to needing oxygen can take two weeks or more, the number of new cases can be an indicator of what might happen to hospitalization rates two or more weeks in advance.

In South Africa, the omicron variant began to lead to an increase in the number of new cases in the area around Pretoria about three weeks ago. The number of reported cases in other places in South Africa, and the number of hospitalizations in the Pretoria area, are only now starting to rise.

One possibility is that any places in the United States or Europe where case counts are starting to tick up could have about as many omicron variant cases as places in South Africa, like the Cape Town area, where the case counts have begun to increase.

For a look at the five U.S. metropolitan areas with the biggest percentage increases in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for the week ending Nov. 26, see the slideshow above.

For data for 54 metropolitan areas, see the table below.

Other Leading Indicators

Dynata posts an interactive, survey-based COVID-19 symptom-tracking map. That map appears to show how percentages of survey takers suffering from the symptoms of the omicron variant — fatigue and a dry cough — in places like Arkansas, Louisiana and Michigan.

Kinsa, a digital thermometer company, offers interactive tracking and forecast maps based on digital thermometer readings. Kinsa is predicting that COVID-19 risk could be higher in much of New England, parts of the Midwest and Nevada.

Metropolitan Area COVID-19 Case Count Trends

Place Population Cases, last 7 days Cases per 100,000 people, last 7 days Cases – % change People who are fully vaccinated as % of total population
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta (Georgia) 6,020,364 2,966 49 -38.0% +29.6%
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown (Texas) 2,227,083 1,091 49 -28.0% +61.2%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson (Maryland) 2,800,053 2,861 102 -10.0% +65.5%
Birmingham-Hoover (Alabama) 1,090,435 313 29 -40.0% +44.8%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton (Massachusetts, New Hampshire) 4,873,019 11,340 233 +3.0% +68.0%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga (New York) 1,127,983 5,333 473 -1.0% +63.2%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia (North Carolina, South Carolina) 2,636,883 2,662 101 -30.0% +50.3%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin) 9,458,539 14,756 156 -21.0% +63.1%
Cincinnati (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana) 2,221,208 4,773 215 -11.0% +54.5%
Cleveland-Elyria (Ohio) 2,048,449 7,467 365 -6.0% +58.6%
Columbus (Ohio) 2,122,271 4,719 222 -9.0% +56.3%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (Texas) 7,573,136 3,808 50 -35.0% +53.6%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (Colorado) 2,967,239 8,767 295 -22.0% +65.4%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn (Michigan) 4,319,629 16,109 373 -30.0% +54.1%
Grand Rapids-Kentwood (Michigan) 1,077,370 5,042 468 -41.0% +53.9%
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown (Connecticut) 1,204,877 1,533 127 +5.0% +69.2%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (Texas) 7,066,141 2,920 41 -25.0% +56.7%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson (Indiana) 2,074,537 3,854 186 +55.4%
Jacksonville (Florida) 1,559,514 - - -100.0% +55.6%
Kansas City (Missouri, Kansas) 2,157,990 3,703 172 -38.0% +54.2%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, (Nevada) 2,266,715 2,094 92 -28.0% +51.2%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (California) 13,214,799 6,805 51 -33.0% +64.2%
Louisville/Jefferson County (Kentucky, Indiana) 1,265,108 1,989 157 -8.0% +54.2%
Memphis (Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas) 1,346,045 763 57 -49.0% +48.1%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (Florida) 6,166,488 - - -100.0% +69.8%
Milwaukee-Waukesha (Wisconsin) 1,575,179 4,697 298 -10.0% +59.3%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (Minnesota, Wisconsin) 3,640,043 15,043 413 -18.0% +60.6%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin (Tennessee) 1,934,317 1,392 72 -42.0% +53.1%
New Orleans-Metairie (Louisiana) 1,270,530 331 26 -46.0% +58.3%
New York-Newark-Jersey City (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) 19,216,182 26,850 140 -8.0% +67.6%
Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) 1,408,950 1,348 96 -27.0% +53.2%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (Florida) 2,608,147 - - -100.0% +62.1%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland) 6,102,434 10,992 180 +2.0% +60.8%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler (Arizona) 4,948,203 15,527 314 -13.0% +51.1%
Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) 2,317,600 9,136 394 -6.0% +55.5%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro (Oregon, Washington) 2,492,412 1,744 70 -37.0% +66.2%
Providence-Warwick, (Rhode Island, Massachusetts) 1,624,578 4,937 304 +5.0% +64.4%
Raleigh-Cary (North Carolina) 1,390,785 1,231 89 -27.0% +61.1%
Richmond (Virginia) 1,291,900 1,582 122 +48.8%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, (California) 4,650,631 933 20 -82.0% +51.8%
Rochester (New York) 1,069,644 3,968 371 -17.0% +63.5%
Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom (California) 2,363,730 371 16 -82.0% +60.1%
Salt Lake City (Utah) 1,232,696 3,420 277 -20.0% +60.1%
San Antonio-New Braunfels (Texas) 2,550,960 1,389 54 -39.0% +59.9%
San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad (California) 3,338,330 2,487 74 -9.0% +54.0%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley (California) 4,731,803 517 11 -77.0% +74.2%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (California) 1,990,660 330 17 -75.0% +76.7%
San Juan-Bayamón-Caguas (Puerto Rico) 2,023,227 313 15 -41.0% +69.1%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (Washington) 3,979,845 2,640 66 -51.0% +67.4%
St. Louis (Missouri, Illinois) 2,803,228 4,844 173 -14.0% +53.8%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (Florida) 3,194,831 - - -100.0% +56.8%
Tucson (Arizona) 1,047,279 3,432 328 -21.0% +61.3%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (Virginia, North Carolina) 1,768,901 1,586 90 +12.0% +52.0%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia) 6,280,487 5,296 84 -10.0% +66.1%