Respiratory specimens testing optimistic for SARS-CoV-2 lower within the U.S., CDC report
The United States has reported the highest number of cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the pandemic began, with more than 6.88 million infections. Now, eight months into the pandemic caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a decreasing percentage of respiratory samples, who tested positive for the virus.
In the report released on September 18, the CDC shows that indicators tracking COVID-19 activity continued to decline or remained stable. Still, two regions say a slight increase in the percentage of samples that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile, four regions saw a slight increase in the percentage of outpatient visits or emergency admissions for influenza-like diseases (ILI).
Despite declining positive airway samples, the COVID-19-linked death rate remains above the epidemic threshold.
Decreasing COVID-19 positive samples
Overall, the report said the percentage of respiratory samples that tested positive for the virus fell from 5.2 percent in week 36 to 4.8 percent in week 37 of the pandemic in the country.
Based on the report, public health laboratories report a decrease from 5.4 percent to 4.5 percent. Clinical laboratories saw a decrease from 5.2 percent to 5.4 percent, and commercial laboratories reported a decrease from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent in those weeks.
Tracking of visits to the COVID-19 emergency room
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States has set up two surveillance networks to track outpatient or emergency room visits for diseases with symptoms related to COVID-19.
The data collected by the CDC show that the percentage of visits due to a flu-like illness remained stable at week 37 compared to the previous week. For the ninth straight week, the percentage of visits for COVID-like illness dropped from 2 percent to 1.8 percent by week 37.
“Recent changes in behavior in finding health services, including the increased use of telemedicine, recommendations to limit ED visits to serious illnesses, and increasing social distancing, are likely to impact both networks and make it difficult to draw conclusions at this time. Tracking these systems in the future will provide additional insight into diseases related to COVID-19, ”reports the CDC.
COVID hospital stays and death
While most COVID-19 cases are mild to moderate, some people may need to be hospitalized for severe symptoms. Nationwide, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate was 170.4 per 100,000 people. For people over 65 years of age, the hospitalization rate was 460.7 per 100,000, followed by people between 50 and 64 years of age at a rate of 255.1 per 100,000.
However, between weeks 31 and 37, weekly hospitalization rates decreased for all age groups. Over the same period, however, the weekly rates for children and adolescents remained stable.
Minority people, particularly non-Hispanic American India, Alaskan Native Americans, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanic or Latin American people, had hospital stays about 4.6 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites.
The percentage of deaths from pneumonia, flu, or COVID-19 at week 37 was 6.2 percent, down from week 36 (9.3 percent). However, the death rate is still above the epidemic threshold.
People with underlying health conditions are more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of the 11,428 adults in the hospital, 90.3 percent had at least one reported underlying health condition, including high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Of the 371 children hospitalized, 49.1 percent had at least one underlying medical condition, including obesity, neurological disorders, and asthma.
COVID-19 worldwide toll
Worldwide, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected more than 31 million people and killed at least 967,000 people. The US reports the highest death toll. Over 200,000 people succumb to the infection.
The United States is followed by India and Brazil with more than 5.56 million and 4.58 million cases, respectively.