In the first week of 2021, nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities reported 6,423 COVID-19 deaths among staff and residents, and 67,271 new cases. This is the highest number of deaths and the second-highest weekly case number in our data set. Long-term-care facility data are reported and compiled on a different cadence from our testing and outcomes data, and these figures are for the week beginning on January 1. It’s likely that backlogged data from holiday reporting disruptions are included in these figures, so we won’t be able to confidently interpret them as reflections of recent changes in outbreaks for at least another week.
Hospitalization data do offer a small glimmer of hope this week: Although current hospitalizations are up week over week, a slight flattening in the numbers over the past five days suggests the possibility of a plateau—albeit a plateau at a devastatingly high number.
The national summary includes data from regions with falling hospitalizations as well as those with surging outbreaks. In the regional view, we can see that the growth in hospitalizations appears to be slowing in the Northwest, and perhaps in the West, while Midwest hospitalizations continue to decline. In the South, hospitalizations are still rising.
Regional and state breakdowns of the data are important not only for seeing where outbreaks have reached especially dangerous levels, but for helping us understand where public-health mitigation efforts appear to be working to slow the spread of the virus. The U.S. Census divides the United States into the four main regions we use for all our regional charts, but also into nine subregional divisions. We looked at the hospital data through this more granular view to see where hospitalizations are rising and falling within the major regions.
In the West, hospitalizations are sharply up in the Pacific division, reflecting Southern California’s surging outbreaks, while the Mountain division has plateaued. Hospitalizations are rising throughout the South, but most sharply in the South Atlantic, reflecting rises in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. In the Middle Atlantic region of the Northeast, hospitalizations are rising quickly, driven by increases in New York State, but in the New England division, they have plateaued. In the Midwest, hospitalizations in both regional divisions continue to drop, indicating ongoing easing of outbreaks across those areas.
State-level data can also obscure important differences within states and between metro areas. Our team has released an interactive map interface for the facility-level hospitalization data set from HHS to enable much more detailed explorations of hospital capacity and COVID-19 patient counts.