Friday Stats and More

Note to readers — The FEHBlog learned this morning that the 2021 Nationwide / FFS Plan Premium chart did not open properly. The FEHBlog apologizes. Here is the proper link to that report. Now onto Friday Stats and More —

Based on the CDC’s Cases in the U.S. website, here is the FEHBlog’s chart of new weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths over the 20th through 41st weeks of this year (beginning May 14 and ending October 15 / five months; using Thursday as the first day of the week in order to facilitate this weekly update):

As you can see there has been uptick in cases over the last month or so.

Here is the CDC’s latest overall weekly hospitalization rate chart for COVID-19:

The hospitalization rate has been fairly steady for the past two months.

Because the new deaths line in the chart above is flat because new cases greatly exceed new deaths, here is a chart of new COVID-19 deaths over the same period (May 14 through October 14 (five months).

COVID-19 weekly deaths also have plateaued around 4,000 over the past month. The CDC advises in this week’s COVID-19 surveillance report that

Nationally, weekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates reported through COVID-NET have remained steady for all age groups in recent weeks; however, rates have increased in 7 of 14 COVID-NET sites during this time period. Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza, or COVID-19 (PIC) for week 41 was 7.2% and, while declining, remains above the epidemic threshold. Hospitalization and mortality data for the most recent weeks may change as additional data are reported.

Meanwhile the CDC’s last flu surveillance report states simply that “Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains low.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Pfizer “Chief Executive Albert Bourla said Friday the company could start to see from a large study whether the [COVID-19] vaccine works by the end of this month and would have data on its safety by the third week of November. If the preliminary results indicate the vaccine can work safely, Pfizer could ask U.S. health regulators to permit use by late November, Mr. Bourla said.” That’s encouraging.

Govexec informs us that “The Trump administration has put together a set of recommendations that agencies throughout government can use when bringing employees back to their offices, contracting with a private sector firm to compile the suggestions.”

Following up on yesterday’s report on the plans that are displaying their 2021 benefit and premium changes on their websites — you can add GEHA to that growing list. Blue Cross FEP also added to its website an explanation of how it plans to conduct a virtual Open Season in 2020.