The Pandemic Surges in the West, South, and Northeast

And hospitalizations tell a more complex story. Over the seven days ending December 29, the measure fell in 28 states and the District of Columbia and rose in 21 states (it was unchanged in New Mexico); it fell by 10 percent or more in 10 states, suggesting a substantial change in the state’s conditions, and rose by 10 percent or more in 12.

California is one of the five states—along with Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas—that account for 40 percent of new cases from December 17 to December 23, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Of the five, California has by far the highest number of hospitalizations, which beyond their general stress on the health-care system augur high death tolls to come. California had 21,240 people in hospitals on December 29, accounting for 17 percent of all hospitalizations nationwide. Twice as many Californians were hospitalized on December 29 as on December 6. Texas is also seeing a rise in hospitalizations—it had 11,775 on December 29—but its numbers are only up by about 2,800 since the first week of December.

Hospitalizations are also up in Arizona. Its hospitalization rate, at 615 people per million, is higher than California’s 538 per million. Arizona has now surpassed its devastating summer surge; while 3,517 people were hospitalized on July 14, that number was 4,475 on December 29. Nevada, whose population is centered in Las Vegas between the hotspots of Arizona and Southern California, has the highest hospitalization rate in the country, at 626 per million.

Just behind Nevada and Arizona in hospitalizations per million is Alabama. During its summer surge in early August, Alabama had about 1,500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per day; it now has 2,804. The state’s seven-day average of deaths (which, because of the problems with holiday reporting, is quite volatile) has also recently been higher than in the summer. On December 23, the state reported 135 deaths, more than double the peak of 61 it suffered on July 27, and reported another 89 deaths on December 24. Hospitalizations are also up in neighboring Georgia, which reached a new record of 4,839 on December 29, one-third higher than its previous July peak.

In this patchwork, which includes clusters in the West and South, the country’s original epicenter is also back on the map. New York is nowhere near the dire conditions of the late winter and early spring, when the state had more than 18,000 people hospitalized and was recording more than 750 deaths per day, but there are worrisome signs. The seven-day average of hospitalizations more than doubled between December 1 and December 29, when it hit 7,184. Cases and deaths are also up. And unlike in the spring, the problem is statewide. According to New York State data, 2,717 people in New York City were hospitalized with COVID-19 on December 28, plus another 1,358 in Long Island. Those two regions are far below their spring peaks, as is the mid-Hudson region, which encompasses the area just north of the city, including its suburbs, while every other part of the state is at its highest level yet—there are more than 400 people hospitalized in the central New York area, for example, about five times higher than at any other point in the pandemic. There are 964 hospitalized in the Finger Lakes region, 4.4 times the previous peak.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long added to this report.