Though the comment received little more than a headline from the newswires, the White House acknowledged earlier on Wednesday that it has started to see COVID cases leveling off in the hardest-hit states.
- WHITE HOUSE SAYS U.S. HAS STARTED TO SEE SOME LEVELING OFF OF COVID-19 INFECTIONS IN STATES SEEING SURGE
To be sure, the drop in cases, which typically portends a decline in hospitalizations and deaths, has arrived just in the nick of time for some hospital systems in Florida and Texas, which have reported seeing a surge in beds occupied by COVID patients. Still, South Carolina recorded the fourth straight daily decline in new cases, while Florida saw cases decline again after the CDC “adjusted” a supposedly “record-breaking” daily tally which was actually an aggregation of the tally (eventually, the number listed was only 50% of the original figure).
Texas also reported a day-over-day decline on Wednesday (~14K cases vs. nearly 17K the day before). Even Arkansas, supposedly the state hardest hit by the latest delta-driven wave of infections, which at the start of this week reportedly had just 8 ICU beds left in the entire state, saw its daily cases drop by nearly half on Wednesday, from 4,851, to 2,664.
The declines beg the question: was the latest IHME projection about the trajectory of the latest delta wave actually on point?
Because according to the projections, Aug. 11 (ie Wednesday) was identified as the peak of the wave according to the projections’ base case.
Meanwhile, the worst case scenario shows the wave cresting later this month. But as the White House acknowledged, it looks like the hardest hit states are already seeing the declines that many experts, including former FDA Director Dr. Scott Gottlieb, had expected.
In his latest tweet, Dr. Gottlieb highlighted the decline in the “R” rate in four of the hardest hit states: Fla., La., Nev. & Ark.
The rate represents the number of patients that each person infected with COVID will pass the virus on to. Once it falls below one, that means the virus is decidedly starting to slow.
Covidestim, an academic project frequently cited by Gottlieb, showed the “R” rate for Arkansas has broken decidedly below 1.
Still, even if cases continue their decline, hospital systems in these states might continue to see strain, making it hard for them to quickly recover even as the number of new cases continues to fade.
Hospitalizations lag infections, and the average length of stay for Covid patients is longer than typical admissions, especially in the ICU, making it hard for hospitals to quickly recover even as the surge in new cases begins to decline day over day.
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) August 11, 2021
Nationwide, data from the CDC shows that the number of new cases has already moved solidly back below 100K/day after news organizations made a big deal about the case numbers breaking back above that milestone.
The big question now, as more states impose draconian mandatory vaccination orders (California being the first to officially require teachers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing), is whether they’d be just as well off if they simply waited for the latest wave to subside.