States across the US use two primary methods for announcing COVID-19 deaths: date of death (reported) and date of death (actual). To analyze how the pandemic is trending across the country, understanding the relationship between these two data points is crucial. Here's what we've learned from investigating both methods in three of our largest hotspots: Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
Data for current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States—one of our most valuable metrics for understanding the pandemic and its effects—has become highly erratic in recent weeks. Here's what we've learned from watching the data closely, and from our initial analysis of the hospitalization data being published by the federal government.
The South continues to be the epicenter of surges in both cases and hospitalizations. In Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas, COVID-19 deaths have begun to climb following jumps in new cases. And for the first time since April, deaths are rising nationally.
We're up to 24 states publishing both confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths, and we're adding those data points into our API. But states are also using two different ways of deciding which deaths to count as COVID-19 deaths.
Hospitalization data can help us understand the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States, and even see a little bit of what's to come. Until very recently, we didn't have a national summary figure—now we can finally piece together a national statistic from states that provide it, and estimate the rest.
COVID-19 death data lags behind testing data in ways we mostly understand. What we only partly understand is how an infection rate that seems to be skewing younger will affect the death toll in surging regional outbreaks.