Every State's COVID Numbers in Context, Oct 2021
As COVID cases recede, we keep a watchful eye
This is one of the more boring versions of this monthly post, but that is good. We like boring. When it comes to COVID tracking, we hate new developments.
With the exception of Alaska, all the surges we were watching last month have tapered down. The summer/fall surge almost entirely over in the south, the surge in the mountain states and plains states are past their peak, we aren’t seeing any hints of a winter surge in the northeast.
Things will change in the future (it always does) but my plan is to continue these monthly posts at least through the winter. If we manage to avoid a COVID surge this winter, I’ll make another attempt at not tracking this stupid pandemic with this level of detail any longer.
Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin)
Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming)
Northeast (Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania)
Southern Border (Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas)
Mid-South (Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)
Plains States (Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota)
West Coast (Washington, Oregon, California)
Upper Northeast + Alaska & Hawaii (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Hawaii)
The late-summer surge seems is winding down in the midwest. At some point, I probably need to write about how we need to have a moratorium on all COVID news stories because it inevitably gets caught up in a narrative and the way that narratives work is that they can’t handle talking about more than one or two states at a time.
There was a lot of bad press about Missouri when they were having a surge, but I don’t recall seeing any bad press about any of the other midwest states, nearly all of whom had bigger surges. Missouri just ended up being the first, so it was unfairly attacked b/c it’s easy to focus on one state and hard to focus on six.
Thankfully, the death rates seem more muted on this surge than they have previously been. I’m guessing this is partly a factor of wide vaccine distribution and partly that we’re still waiting for the death rate to catch up from the case peaks.
Someone needs to study Utah and tell us exactly what is going on there. Even when they have big COVID case surges, their death rate is way lower than other states with similar surges.
It’s a little distressing that the curves in Idaho and Wyoming are flattening at such a high level instead of dropping. That’s not what we want or expect. Also of note is the fact that Nevada’s death rate has been incredibly high for almost 3 months now, even though their case rate hasn’t been particularly bad.
The mountain region is filled with COVID anomalies for which I don’t have a ready explanation. This kind of data weirdness helps remind me that very little of this is predictable or reliable.
It looks like the northeast is sliding out of a fall surge. There has been a lot of speculation that the northeast is going to see another surge this winter. That is possible, but we don’t see any evidence of it yet. This time last year, we were starting to see some movement toward a surge, but the numbers this year are trending downward as of late October.
Like the midwest, deaths have increased only a little bit except in Delaware (which has the most significant surge in the northeast) and Pennsylvania (which had the second largest). I’m hoping that things continue to slide downward, maybe we are truly past the last big surge.
Sometimes these numbers and patterns just get so weird. In the southern border states, we see the now-familiar pandemic pattern (a near-symmetrical spike and decline) in most of the states… except New Mexico, which has plateaued at 30-40 cases per 100K for almost three months. This is the only state that gives me the sense that we might be getting a hint of a winter surge (New Mexico was one of the early states to see a big winter surge last year).
Other than that, the southern border states tell a story of COVID on the decline as they recover from the very awful summer / fall surge.
The mid-south has been about 4-6 weeks behind the southern border states on their surge. The surge was sharp and painful but is clearly on the downslope.
Remember that death surge follows the case surge by about 3-4 weeks, so it will take some time yet to decline. I’m hopeful that an early fall surge will mean we don’t see any winter surge.
It has been encouraging to see that the surge in the plains states has not (so far) been as bad as the surge last year. The big exception to that has been Montana, but the data is still pretty choppy and the death spike this last week may be one of those data-dump / audit spikes like that spike in Oklahoma in July.
I’m cautiously optimistic about the west coast, but I was in the same place last November and then, a week after I said things were looking good, the cases in California saw a massive spike.
I continue to find it extremely strange that Washington and Oregon had their worst COVID surges *after* vaccines became available. Yes, they have had a fairly good response from COVID overall, but we really expected a COVID surges post-vaccine to be much lower compared to the pre-vaccine surges.
Upper Northeast + Alaska & Hawaii
What is happening in Alaska is crazy. Alaska’s adult population is 64% fully vaccinated (72% with at least one dose) and they are having an absolutely brutal COVID surge. The death rate in Alaska is hard to judge from here, those spikes look like they are one-time dumps of death.
Hawaii’s surge is clearly over and the death surge is winding down. There are small surges in New Hampshire/Vermont/Maine, but they are fairly muted compared to what we’ve seen in other states. It is (again) surprising that those very highly vaccinated states are seeing surges now that are close to or higher than their pre-vaccine surges, both in death rates and in case rates.
I don’t know why. It seems strange.
Looney Tunes: A Broken Leghorn
This short starts out so sad, with the local busybodies of a chicken coop gossiping about Prissy, the old hen who can’t lay an egg. Foghorn Leghorn steals an egg from another nest and tricks Prissy into thinking it’s hers, but when the egg hatches into a rooster, Leghorn senses trouble.
This put the baby rooster in the role of the young chickenhawk who normally gives Foghorn Leghorn trouble. Their voices even sound the same! After the setup, we get into the standard Looney Tunes gag-fest with Foghorn as the patsy.
Generally good jokes all around, but I have to confess that the same-ness of some of these cartoons is starting to wear on me. I think I might move back to doing Disney shorts for a while as a way of freshening up the newsletter.