COVID cases hold steady while hospitalizations, deaths rise

Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus infections held steady across the U.S. as falling case rates in a few hot spots in the South were offset by increases elsewhere.

Driving the news: While the overall COVID case rate increased less than 1% over the last two weeks, hospitalizations increased 4% in the same time frame, and the seven-day rolling average of deaths rose 29%.

The country is averaging about 1,500 deaths a day for the first time since March. And while they’re well below peak levels, daily death totals have more than quintupled since the start of August, per the New York Times.

By the numbers: On average, about 152,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 each day nationwide over the past two weeks.

That might look like an improvement from last week, when we reported about 160,000 Americans were testing positive for COVID daily, but the data might also be skewed by many states not reporting on Labor Day.

Details: A small number of states, including Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, still have high numbers but have continued to see an improvement over the past two weeks.

For instance, Florida saw a 23% drop in cases and a 17% drop in hospitalizations over the last two weeks. But the state still has 345 daily COVID deaths on average.Meanwhile, the biggest increases in new cases continue to be clustered in the South — including Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina — as well as in Ohio and West Virginia.States around the country have reported that COVID surges are increasing the strain on hospital systems. This week, Idaho hospitals begin rationing health care amid COVID surges, West Virginia reported record high ICU and ventilator cases, and Wisconsin hospitals said their ICU beds are in short supply.

What we’re watching: Cases — and hospitalizations — among kids.

Kids now make up more than a quarter (26.9%) of new weekly COVID-19 cases nationwide after they headed back to school over the last few weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In all, there were 251,781 child COVID-19 cases reported between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, per AAP’s data. In that time, there was a 10% increase in the cumulative number of pediatric COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The bottom line: The Delta variant continues to show us there is still a long road ahead — and plenty of pockets around the country that are still vulnerable — with this pandemic. As the AP put it: The summer of hope is ending in gloom.

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