“Stabilization in the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and some Rocky Mountain and Heartland states is being offset by significant deterioration in more populous states (82% of the population),” reports sent to states by the task force and obtained by CNN said, echoing comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx during a call with the nation’s governors earlier this week.
The reports offered another week of bleak assessments, saying, “The fall surge is merging with the post-Thanksgiving surge to create a winter surge with the most rapid increase in cases; the widest spread, with more than 2,000 counties in COVID red zones; and the longest duration, now entering the 9th week, we have experienced.”
Despite that surge and a “threat to the hospital systems,” the task force warned that “many state and local governments are not implementing the same mitigation policies that stemmed the tide of the summer surge,” citing indoor gatherings at home and calling for a “significant reduction in capacity or closure in public and private indoor spaces, including restaurants and bars.”
Americans, the reports said, should “(understand) the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks.” That behavior has not been modeled by the White House, however, amid dozens of indoor holiday parties over the past two weeks.
In the days before Christmas, the task force told state officials to “warn about any gathering during December holidays.”
The reports — obtained by CNN just days after a vaccine was first distributed to front-line health care workers in the US — also urged states to prioritize the next tier of individuals who will receive vaccines, citing some stark data.
“Ensure comprehensive analysis of next tier priority of vaccinations; understand immunization of individuals over 65 will have the greatest impact on hospitalizations and deaths. For those over 70 with COVID infection, 20% or more are admitted and nearly 10% die,” the reports said.
The reports this week also offered guidance on treatments, recommending monoclonal antibodies for those with mild and moderate cases “but who are at high risk of severe outcomes,” remdesivir for “patients who require hospitalization,” and dexamethasone “for late-stage inpatients… who require oxygen support, especially ventilation.”
And the task force urged states to “please utilize all antigen tests during this current surge to find community asymptomatic spread.”
Rhode Island this week is the state with the most new cases per population, followed by Ohio, North Dakota, Indiana, Tennessee, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota and Kansas in the top ten.
The reports also provided a ranking by state of Covid-19-related hospital admissions per 100 hospital beds. Arizona had the most admissions per inpatient beds, followed by Maryland, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Washington, DC, Nevada and Ohio in the top ten.
Iowa had the most deaths per population, followed by North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Colorado in the top ten.