This may seem a bit delayed for a report that only goes through the end of February, but consider that as recently as Wednesday, the Knox County Health Department was adjusting death numbers for last month. Given the continuing adjustments, providing accurate numbers by month has become very difficult. These numbers are the most accurate I know how to make them, and that is the best I can claim.
You may notice that previous numbers have been adjusted upward (mostly) or downward. This is due to the adjustments subsequently reported or by my own discovery of errors in previous data. Since information changes retroactively, I try to look at the most recent months and see if I they can be made more accurate.
It’s been just over a week since I stopped my weekly reports and trends are generally the same at each level as those I reported last time out. Internationally, cases are rising slowly, while deaths continue to drop significantly. Nationally, cases and deaths each continue to drop, and cases are as low as they were last July, so we’re below the drop last fall. At the state and local levels, cases continue to drop in a major way, while deaths are dropping, but remain high.
Turning to the state charts, the incredible heights of the Omicron surge are illustrated by how good February case numbers look compared to January. The intensity of the surge is seen in the fact that while February looks so good in comparison, it is, in truth, the sixth worst month of the pandemic in case numbers for the state. In other words, it looks great by comparison to the previous month, but it’s quite bad.
The trend is identical at the county level. I’m looking at March numbers and I think it may be an objectively good month at both levels, unless something changes.
Deaths also followed the same pattern at the state and local level, with declines, but nothing near as dramatic as the declines in cases. We should see a larger decline in deaths in March, but even then, it looks to be more gradual. While cases of Omicron far outstripped the Delta surge from last fall, the deaths in real numbers were almost identical at both the state and local level.
Compare the two-month totals for deaths in September/October to January/February. As a ratio of cases to deaths, Omicron was milder, but in practical terms, virtually the same total number died at the peaks of each one.
So, what happens next is anyone’s guess, of course. If we follow Europe as we’ve done for previous surges, we’ll surge or at least bump upward again in May or June. Cases are only up 5% in Europe over the last week, but in the UK, which we seem to track, cases are up 31% in the last week. They are more vaccinated than the U.S. and gained immunity from the Omicron surge. Will there be a variable that spares us from following in their footsteps? No one knows.