Post #1100: COVID update, more and interesting data on variants of concern and Michigan

Posted on April 7, 2021

National, regional, and state are about the same as they were yesterday.  Really, there’s nothing new to say there. There is no national trends to speak of.

Every day, new case counts go up in about half of states.  And they go down in the other half.

Regarding vaccination rates, I now know that the reported data have a regular weekly cycle, and that the “snapshot” data that the CDC post every day are substantially incomplete (see Post #1094).  In .  Also, looks like a lot of vaccination facilities were closed for Easter, which will put a little artifact into the data timeseries.

I think the only thing I can safely conclude, given all that, is that we still haven’t reached the upper limit of vaccination of the elderly.  The fraction with at least one shot continues to crawl upward.

I find that kind of surprising, given that most states are now beyond the phase where the elderly were given priority.  I can’t quite figure out whether this is just the lag between scheduling the shot and getting it, or whether there really are that many elderly individuals who waited beyond their priority period before they decided to get vaccinated.

There is significant interesting new information regarding COVID-19 variants.  The CDC has updated its state-level incidence data, greatly expanding the number of states that it reports incidence data for. Prior to this, just 17 states were listed.  This now shows 44 states.

Note that these rates reflect the state of the world as of about five weeks ago, on average.  And that some of these variants have been growing, as a proportion of the total, at a rapid clip.  If a snapshot of today’s rates were available, you’d see much higher numbers.

The point is that the highest incidence of the U.K. variant B.1.1.7, as of that time, was Michigan And Minnesota was right up there as well.  This finally resolves an apparent discrepancy between the CDC’s count of variant cases, and that table of incidence rates.  Michigan hadn’t been listed before, presumably due to small sample size.  Now that they have enough samples sequenced, Michigan is at the top of the list.

Despite that, it’s still hard to make the case that the variant is driving the outbreak.  Note Florida and Texas are also high on the list, and not much is happening there.  It’s almost as if the rule is U.K. variant plus cold climate yields outbreak.  And I’ll note that for the U.K. itself, with a combination of that variant, lockdown, vaccination, and warmer weather — the U.K. is seeing gently falling new case rates.

In any case, given the greatly expanded count of states for which this information is now available, I’m going to redo my simple statistical analysis (Post #1092) and see if anything changes.