Every State's COVID Numbers in Context, Nov 2021
On the edge of the next wave and a confounding time for data-gathering, we review the states in detail
Check out the latest county-by-county map (animation starts in March 2021)
This last month, we’ve been watching the beginnings of the winter surge. Last year’s winter surge hit almost every state and I suspect that, by the time we get to March and April, most will see some level of COVID surge. It may be that the recent surge in the southern states protects them from an additional surge this winter, but there really is no way of knowing until it happens.
One thing to keep in mind going into this next month is that the COVID numbers are about to get very weird. We’re right at the start of a surge in several states and the reporting numbers always get really weird during the holidays. This is a pattern we always see: the numbers will drop as states and counties don’t report during the holidays and then will spike dramatically when reporting picks back up the week following the holiday.
This is totally normal and even expected at this point, but it’s going to look weird in the data because we have cases spiking at exactly the moment when reporting is uneven.
One last note: For over a year, I’ve added some red lines to help deliver a consistent gauge of the “how are we doing”. I had a “caution line” at 10 daily COVID positive per 100K residents because that roughly corresponded to the level of COVID cases at which many municipalities would implement restrictions. I also had a “this is bad” line at 1 daily COVID death per 100K residents because that was a rough estimate of when a surge in a given region was really quite bad.
I don’t think those lines are very helpful any longer. All my charts are set to identically scaled y-axes, so we can just directly compare the surges to each other.
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, 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 midwest is showing clear signs of an emerging surge. Cases have already spiked pretty high in Minnesota and Michigan, with most other states seeing that curve back toward case acceleration.
We’ve not yet seen these cases result in an acceleration of deaths, but we see hints of that starting again in Michigan. My deep suspicion is that we’re going to end up with the biggest surges in the midwest since last winter.
The mountain states are odd this month. Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada are all trending downward while Colorado is trending up and Utah has just been kind of sitting at a fairly high plateau of about 50 daily COVID positives for almost 2 months.
Colorado’s cases are higher than they’ve been since last winter, but it still doesn’t look much like that spikey pandemic curve, so it’s hard to gauge what is going to happen. It might suddenly accelerate or it might start trending down for no discernible reason.
The northeast is showing unmistakable signs of COVID cases at the beginning of an upward trend and I suspect they will continue moving that direction over the next month.
Thankfully, their death rates remain fairly low, but if positives continue to trend upward, it’s almost certain that death counts will follow.
Most of the southern border states look like textbook pandemic curves right now. Low incidence, declining death rates, and no sign of a resurgence at the moment.
The exceptions are the New Mexico/Arizona region. Those two states were the least impacted by the summer/fall wave and are seeing COVID surges again. Interestingly, they’re doing the exact same thing they did last year, when New Mexico spiked early and then Arizona followed closely behind… after which the rest of the southern border states saw another spike.
I suspect that another winter surge will be mild for states that just got hit really badly during the fall surge simply because that is the pattern we’ve seen so far. I take some comfort in the fact that New Mexico and Arizona aren’t seeing the case acceleration they saw last year (maybe the effect of vaccines slowing down the surge? who knows), but I very much expect to see that surge continue into the next few weeks.
Hooray for positives dropping in the middle southern states. They’re recovering well from their fall surge without any real sign of a resurgence yet. This certainly doesn’t mean it can’t happen (the winter surge in this region really picked up in December last year), but the cases are consistently lower than they were at this time last year.
From the fall surge in this region, Montana got the worst of it, but it’s encouraging to see cases and deaths trending downward.
Due to their low populations, the plains states data is always pretty spikey, but they’re coming down from a minor fall surge and not showing clear signs of heading into another surge.
I mean, if you squinted, you could maybe argue that Kansas and Oklahoma are trending upward, but that could also just be the general spikiness of their data reporting.
The spike in deaths from Oregon this last month has got to be some reporting lag. We can see deaths dipping and then spiking, but that must just be an under-report one week followed by a catch-up report the following week. Just try to mentally smooth that line out at about .6 or .7 daily deaths per 100K and disregard the high spike point.
Other than that, things look fine on the west coast. The minor summer/fall surge is still declining and there is no reason to think it will spike other than the fact that California’s cases spiked incredibly quickly at about this time last year. I suspect there will be a surge at some point in California, but we’re not seeing any hints of it quite yet.
Upper Northeast + Alaska & Hawaii
It’s an incredible relief to see that Alaska is over their huge COVID spike, but that took a big toll. The three death spikes are almost certainly the health department grouping death reports together and delivering them every two weeks or so, but those are three big spikes to see in rapid succession. I hope the worst is over up there.
In the meantime, there is a fairly substantial surge happening in the upper northeast. Both New Hampshire and Vermont (and possibly Maine) are likely to have the highest COVID rates they’ve ever seen. Deaths have not yet surged, but I expect they will soon. That spike in the last two weeks is too steep for us to see no downstream effect from it.
We’re still in the early stages of the winter surge and it’s going to be incredibly hard to suss out what is actually happening next month between the reporting delays and the holidays. We very much expect to see the surge increasing, though we are not sure how much.
If you’re in one of those regions, haven’t been recently vaccinated, and are in a high-risk group (elderly or immunocompromised) then a booster may provide some additional protection.
Disney Shorts: Donald Applecore (1952)
This is well into Donald’s heyday as the major studio shorts star and, man, those animators really do love humiliating Donald for apparently no reason. In this short, he is an apple farmer who just wants to harvest his apples and finds that they are being stolen en-mass by Chip and Dale. In my mind, Donald is perfectly justified in protecting his farm and business, but apparently the pattern of treating Donald like an antagonist is set in stone by this point.
Sure, Donald may have gone a shade overboard, trying to kill Chip and Dale with an “atomic pill” but it is his farm and they are stealing his livelihood. I found his approach to be mostly justified and, in the end, the thieves win.