COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. ticked down from last week, based on provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. tallied a daily average of about 89,600 new COVID-19 cases over the seven days that ended Aug. 22, and a daily average of close to 390 deaths in that same time frame. In contrast, the averages one week earlier were about 101,000 cases and 440 deaths per day.

For comparison, the largest loss of life during the pandemic was seen in mid-January 2021, when there were close to 3,500 deaths in the U.S. per day. Conversely, deaths dropped to around an average of 200 per day during early July 2021.

Among the top 25 COVID hot spots in the country of late – as measured by the highest average case counts over seven days per 100,000 people – eight were in Virginia, five were in Kentucky, and three were in Illinois.

Because average case rates are calculated per 100,000 people, it’s worth noting that even a relatively small number of infections in a small community can lead to a higher case rate. Loving County, Texas, for instance, had a reported tally of only four new cases over seven days, but with a recent population of under 200, that translates to an average rate of over 300 daily cases per 100,000 people.

But other measures can help give a sense of the current state of the pandemic. For example, as the nonpartisan data center USAFacts explains, the CDC has a “community level” metric that looks not only at case rates but also incorporates COVID-19 hospital admissions and the average percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

As of Aug. 18, across U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia, about 25% of “counties” were considered to be at a “low” COVID-19 community level, based on data from the CDC. Nearly 34% were at the “high” level, and about 41% were at the “medium” level.

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By Richard

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