COVID-19 Updates – The Long and Winding Road is Trending in the Right Direction

The past year has felt like a long and winding road. Yet, the road is looking more promising as we observe continued improvements in cases and hospitalizations and increasing vaccinations.


Case levels are the lowest they have been since early November, and more than 11.6% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. Hospitalizations are down 44.1% since their peak. The Biden Administration plans to distribute 11 million/week, though we administered around 11.5m vaccinations last week.


Between now and the end of March, the U.S. is scheduled to receive an additional 130 million doses to reach the 200m the companies promised (not including J&J potential vaccines).


The CDC issued school reopening guidance that is based on scientific guidance, but not only on the science as it also based decisions on stakeholder input from teachers.

The U.S. has recorded over 27,641,300 identified cases and over 485,200 identified fatalities related to the virus. Our seven-day average testing positivity rate is 5.7%, down from 7.2% last week.


Worldwide case count increase averaged 418,000 in the past week, the third consecutive week of overall improvement. After having some of the highest per-capita infections in January, Spain and Portugal’s rates of increase slowed by half over the past two weeks, in part due to strict lockdowns.


Elsewhere in Europe, a concerning new variant, B.1.258, has emerged in Slovakia and is contributing to an acceleration of cases across the central part of the continent.



Turning to vaccination: among the G20 major economies, the top three countries for vaccination (by doses per 100 people) are the U.K., U.S., and Italy; Australia, Japan, and South Korea plan to start later this month. After scrapping plans to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, South Africa’s timetable is in flux.


In this report, we examine the latest trends in identified cases and fatalities (3-7), testing (8), hospitalizations (9), states' progress relative to Trump's "gating criteria" (23-27), and various states' statistics (28-67). We outline Biden's COVID plan and our related views (10-15). Steve Seedhouse provides the latest on variants and vaccines, and we offer details from our recent vaccine note (slides 16-22). Pavel Molchanov provides extensive information about global cases and vaccines (68-75).


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