Tides turn for the worse in several states

The upper midwest has dominated recent COVID-19 news coverage following outbreaks in Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Now, however, Kinsa data shows new problem spots in areas where the virus has been relatively well-controlled since the first wave this spring. Specifically, Kinsa data indicates that cases are likely to rise in several parts of the northeast and pacific northwest. 

We first highlighted concerning trends in New York City three weeks ago, when we saw Kinsa’s measure of illness transmission (Rt) spike up to atypically high levels. Indeed, daily new cases have since risen from 3 per 100,000 people to almost 10 per 100,000 in Brooklyn, their highest level since early June. In the past week, Kinsa Rt data has again registered as somewhat elevated in NYC, suggesting that cases may continue to rise. Other states in the region are also showing signs of increasing illness spread, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. As states experiment with school reopenings (with decidedly mixed results) and a variety of other reopening measures, we must pay close attention to transmission levels and implement flexible approaches. The beginning of cooler weather may be a contributing factor to rising cases, which tends to drive people indoors.

Similarly, in late summer the Pacific Northwest had enjoyed a downward trend in illness transmission and a corresponding drop in COVID-19 cases. However, we are seeing that trend begin to change direction. Although case counts remain low in Oregon and Washington, rising transmission rates suggest that cases may rise in the coming weeks.