Number of states reporting 'very high' virus levels rises alongside admissions

Twenty-one states reported "very high" levels of respiratory virus activity — a measure of outpatient and emergency department visits — for the week ending Dec. 30, up from 13 that reported the same a week earlier.  

Overall, 38 states reported high levels of respiratory virus activity for the week ending Dec. 30. Included in this total are a rising number of states seeing "very high" activity levels: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming. New York City, which reports data as a single jurisdiction, also saw very high levels. 

According to the CDC, virus activity levels are a measure of the weekly percentage of visits to an outpatient provider or emergency department for fever and cough or sore throat. They reflect "how the percentage in the most recent week compares to what that jurisdiction typically experiences during low circulation periods." There are 13 activity levels, with 1 representing "minimal" activity and 13 representing "very high" activity. Those with very high activity for the most recent week saw levels between 11 and 13. 

In addition to the outpatient side, hospitalizations for COVID-19 and flu continue to climb. Nearly 35,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted to U.S. hospitals in the same week, in addition to more than 20,000 flu patients. 

Nationally, COVID-19 wastewater levels — which serve as an early indicator of whether trends are increasing or decreasing  — are currently very high. Modelers predict the current wave may peak by the end of the month, with high levels of transmission expected to last for at least another month, The New York Times reported Jan. 10. 

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