This is the New York Times map of current new COVID-19 case rates by county. With my annotation as to how I interpret it.
Source: Map is from the New York Times, with my annotations in black.
The first thing that strikes the eye is the sharp difference between western and eastern Oregon and Washington. There’s a nice straight line between the two. In part, that’s due to the shapes of the counties there. But mostly, that’s due to the Rocky Mountains.
The western parts of those states are wet and have relatively mild winters. The eastern parts are relatively arid and have cold winters.
I’m sure there are other differences as well, but that’s how I perceive that line. That’s a little test case of wet versus dry climates.
Then, in general, the middle section of the country right now splits between the area with bitterly cold and and relatively arid winters, and the rest of it. Again, I’m seeing that as the first fingerprints of indoor relative humidity differences.
Finally, on the East Coast, the hotspots of new case growth now are mountain areas. West Virginia seems to take a lot of blame for low vaccination rate. But Maine, as I recall, has one of the highest in the nation. What they have in common is that thinner air and colder temperatures than their adjacent areas. Higher-elevation areas are showing (what I interpret as) the onset of the winter wave first.
Meanwhile, the entire U.S. humid U.S. south is still recovering from the Delta wave. Hotspots there are few and far between.
I’ve presented the evidence for the importance of indoor humidity before (Post #894), so there’s no point repeating it. The only change is that today, I looked at that map and said, there’s no way we’re going to miss a winter wave, if it’s already shaping up like this.
So, while the aggregate U.S. trend remains down, I really don’t think we’re going to skip a winter wave this year. The rising hotspots are already shaping up along the lines of humidity and partial pressure of water vapor. At least, that’s how I read it today.