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Two-thirds U.S. Showing High COVID-19 Transmission Rates

Key Points:

Recommendations for Industry

Two-thirds U.S. Showing High COVID-19 Transmission Rates

Last week we relayed the fact that COVID-19 transmission rates, which had flattened at the beginning of the year, had begun to gradually increase in March. With this week’s matrix data, we are now seeing that significantly increasing with 33 states now seeing transmission rates above 1.0 (indicating that infected persons are transmitting COVID to multiple others).



# of states

above 1.0











This is occurring despite the fact that more people are being vaccinated each day. Some reasons we see as potentially causing this are:

  • A recent CDC study on vaccinated healthcare workers found that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections but efficacy increases to 90% and immunity appears to be more durable when both doses are taken. However the study was conducted between December 14, 2020 and March 13, 2021 – prior to the variant increase in the U.S. … and as shown in the FDA study (noted above in Key Points), current COVID-19 tests are not picking up all the variant mutations, so there are likely to be some false negatives.
  • In both the U.S. and many countries around the globe, activity, travel, and movement in general are increasing, potentially leading to higher transmission rates – particularly from pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic persons.
  • Even with the increasing vaccinations, there is still a high percentage of the population that is not vaccinated, and the variants are continuing to make their way across the nation.
  • Globally it is even worse with numbers going up fast in LATAM and parts of Europe and Asia.

Because of this:

  • Masking, social distancing, and all other COVID protections continue to be recommended.
  • Additionally, it is highly recommended that the test results not be considered in isolation, but that symptoms be considered as well. If someone is ill – whether it be COVID, flu, or other illness, they should stay home. As we’ve said in the past – if in doubt, stay out.

Backing off on requirements will likely require a combination of high vaccination rates and low case rates – but nobody has made a clear statement at the federal or state levels on what that looks like.

Risk Matrix

  • The Government Stringency Index is 41 this week. It is the same as last week, indicating stability in government stringencies. Five (5) states’ (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon) businesses are in mixed opening stages.
  • In Figure 1, this week, we compare the case rate/100K (Table 1) in the population to the percentage of a state’s population that has been vaccinated (with first and second doses) (Figure 1). Table 2 and 3 compare last week and this week’s percentage of states’ populations that have received their first and second vaccinations, respectively.

[Table 1]

[Figure 1]

[Table 2]

[Table 3]

  • Michigan is the only state with a TPR ≥10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people, indicating that testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in the state.
  • 8 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people, indicating that adequate testing is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses. This is up from 6 last week. These states are Connecticut (TPR: 4%, 34.1 cases/100K); Massachusetts (TPR: 2%, 30.8 cases/100K);  New Jersey (TPR: 9%, 49.5 cases/100K); Rhode Island (TPR: 2%, 36.9 cases/100K); Pennsylvania (TPR: 8%, 28.2 cases/100K); New York (TPR: 6%, 39.4 cases/100K); Delaware (TPR: 4%, 29.8 cases/100K); and New Hampshire (TPR: 4%, 26.1 cases/100K).

In Case You Missed It

  • The joint WHO-China study on COVID-19 origins has found, in a recent report, “that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is ‘extremely unlikely.’”
  • New York has launched their Excelsior Pass app to help New York businesses return to normal “by providing a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” Furthermore: “Businesses and venues can scan and validate your pass to ensure you meet any COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements for entry. Along with your Pass, you’ll be asked to show a photo ID that shows your name and birth date to verify that the Pass belongs to you. Adults may hold passes for accompanying minors.”
  • A recent CDC study on vaccinated health-care workers found that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections (after the first dose).

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