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Despite national case decline, Kinsa data show increasing transmission

The past few weeks have brought some optimism as daily COVID-19 case counts have trended downward at a national level. However, regional trends in Kinsa data show that illness transmission (Rt) is rising again in many parts of the country — particularly in the southeast and central Plains regions — suggesting that this downward trend in new infections may plateau or even reverse in the coming weeks. The faster rate of illness spread that Kinsa is observing does not appear to be driven by widespread policy changes, as states have not notably loosened restrictions. It is possible that a false sense of security and fatigue from this long fight against the virus are causing people to let down their guard.

Our list of states to watch remains largely steady from last week, with the notable addition of California — in particular, our data show a steady increase in Rt over the past two weeks in the Bay Area, suggesting likely case growth in the area. This is particularly troublesome at a time when the region is coping with a rash of extreme heat and wildfires, which could cause increased transmission and exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19.

The southeast and Plains regions, which we highlighted last week, continue to show elevated rates of illness transmission. In some of these states, the downward trend in COVID-19 cases is beginning to slow, or even reverse. Daily case counts have begun to rise in Missouri and in some Texas counties, such as Montgomery, following weeks of increasing illness transmission.