A brief update on COVID-19 numbers.

Last night’s COVID-19 numbers suggest we are at a bit of a crossroads. 

The rate of increase in new infections has decreased slightly nationwide, but the number of active infections remains very high. Also, while total COVID-19 numbers vary significantly across the nation, most states are seeing a fairly high level of infections. 

Note the rate of increase in infections (Green circle) has dropped slightly, however the overall number of infections remains very high. In comparison, deaths per infection remain much lower than during earlier peaks. This is very fortunate otherwise the entire country’s health system would be overwhelmed.

Fortunately, compared to earlier infection peaks (especially in April and May), the number of serious hospitalizations and deaths in relation to infections remains relatively low. This is the only reason that the entire health care system is not completely overwhelmed at this point. 

Supporting this high level of COVID-19 activity, the R0 numbers for most states remain at the 1.2 level (meaning each COVID-19 infected person is infecting 1.2 people). This means the pandemic is still expanding. These numbers are not significantly changed over the past month; however, they are higher than two or three months ago suggesting more infectious activity.

R0 numbers for the 50 states, from Rt.live.

There is now a fair consensus that social interactions around Halloween caused this last spurt in COVID-19 activity. This is one of the primary reasons for so much concern around Thanksgiving. Given the current, high level of background infections, Thanksgiving gatherings could cause an incredibly dangerous rise in COVID-19 illness. Such an increase would seriously overwhelm the health care system.

The guidance that has been given advising limiting Thanksgiving gatherings this year should be followed. We are likely going to be starting immunizations in late December, so the end of this pandemic is near. Let’s hang in there until then.       


Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

4 thoughts on “A brief update on COVID-19 numbers.

  1. Thank you for all you time helping us understand the numbers

    Is there any information on how taking the vaccine may affect test results? Ie some states like Hawaii require a negative test within 72 hrs of arrival. Could taking the vaccine cause you to get a positive test?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The vaccine will cause a positive antibody test, as it gives you an immune response to a viral protein. It WILL NOT give you a positive test for viral RNA or antigen that would suggest you are infected with COVID-19, so there should be no problem if you are tested in a manner like Hawaii.


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