Pneumonia, Influenza, and COVID-19 Fatalities Decreased Again

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Nationally, levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19-like illness (CLI) were reported lower than peaks seen in April 2020, but are increasing slightly in some regions in the USA.

And, the percentage of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, decreased from Week #23 in some regions, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on June 19, 2020.

Furthermore, based on death certificate data, the CDC stated the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza, or COVID-19 (PIC) decreased from 11.4 percent during week #23 to 7.1 percent during week #24. 

This is the 8th week during which a declining percentage of fatalities due to PIC has been recorded by the CDC.

However, the PIC percentage remains above the epidemic threshold. The percentage may change as additional death certificates for deaths during recent weeks are processed.

Nationally, using combined data from the three laboratory types, the percentages of laboratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 with a molecular assay increased slightly from week 23 (6.1%) to week 24 (6.4%).

At this point in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, all laboratories are performing primary diagnostic functions; therefore, the percentage of specimens testing positive across laboratory types can be used to monitor trends in COVID-19 activity. 

As the outbreak progresses, it is possible that different types of laboratories will take on different roles and the data interpretation may need to be modified.

The percentages by type of laboratory are as follows:

  • Public health laboratories – increased from 5.1% during week 23 to 5.5% during week 24;
  • Clinical laboratories – decreased from 4.8% during week 23 to 4.6% during week 24;
  • Commercial laboratories – increased from 6.3% during week 23 to 6.7% during week 24.

While the number of specimens from children <18 years of age tested is low (<5% of all specimens tested in public health and commercial laboratories), the percentage testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in this age group is higher than it is in the adult age groups.

The percentage of outpatient and emergency department visits for ILI are below baseline nationally and in all regions of the country. Most regions have remained stable, compared to last week; however, a few regions have noted slight increases in both ILI and CLI.

Systems monitoring ILI and CLI may be influenced by recent changes in healthcare-seeking behavior, including increasing use of telemedicine, recommendations to limit emergency department visits to severe illnesses, and increased practice of social distancing, stated the CDC.

The overall cumulative COVID-19 associated hospitalization rate is 94.5 per 100,000, with the highest rates in people 65 years of age and older.

For people 65 years and older, current cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates are within ranges of cumulative influenza hospitalization rates observed at comparable time points during recent influenza seasons.

Among hospitalized adults with information on underlying medical conditions, 91.2 percent had at least 1 reported underlying medical condition. The most commonly reported were hypertension, obesity, chronic metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease.

And for children (0-17 years), cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates are much lower than cumulative influenza hospitalization rates at comparable time points during recent influenza seasons.

Among hospitalized children with information on underlying conditions, 53.3 percent had at least 1 reported underlying medical condition. The most commonly reported conditions were obesity, asthma, and neurologic conditions.

And from an ethnicity perspective, the CDC reported among the 30,669 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalized cases, Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons have an age-adjusted hospitalization rate approximately 5.5 times that of other ethnicities.

The CDC is using multiple surveillance systems run in collaboration with state, local and territorial health departments, public health, commercial and clinical laboratories, vital statistics offices, health care providers, emergency departments, and academic partners to monitor COVID-19 disease in the USA.

Additional data on demographics, signs, and symptoms at admission, underlying conditions, interventions, outcomes, and discharge diagnoses, stratified by age, sex, and race and ethnicity, are available at this CDC webpage

Precision Vaccinations publishes influenza and COVID-19 related news.