News and Commentary

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rising In North, Falling In South, And The Media Is Silent
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan leaves a briefing outside of TCF Center as it is being converted by the US Army Corps of Engineers in to a field hospital in Detroit, Michigan on April 1, 2020.
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

The states with falling COVID-19 hospitalizations are mostly in the south, and the states with rising hospitalizations are mostly in the north. All the while, the media is ignoring the change, when they spent all summer blasting Govs. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Greg Abbott (R-TX) for supposedly mishandling the pandemic.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty noted the trend on Thursday, while pointing out that just “four states had double-digit percentage increases in the COVID-19 hospitalization rate.” That would be Michigan and New Hampshire, each with a 25% increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks; Minnesota with a 15% increase; and Colorado with a 14% increase. Five more states had single-digit increases: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.

As for the southern states that suffered over the summer, they showed a drastic decrease in hospitalizations. From Geraghty:

In every other state, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 went down – and in some cases, dramatically. Tennessee saw hospitalizations decline 32 percent over the past two weeks, Georgia and Texas both saw 34 percent declines, Mississippi was at 35 percent, Alabama was at 36 percent, South Carolina was at 38 percent, Florida was at 39 percent, Louisiana was at 42 percent, and Hawaii enjoyed an astounding 48 percent drop in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. The Delta variant wave has passed through the southern parts of the country, and thankfully, COVID-19 patients are leaving the hospitals.

The latest data, according to Geraghty, indicates that “the spread of COVID-19 is at least partially driven by changes in behavior driven by temperature and weather.”

“When it’s too hot or too cold, people spend more time indoors and are more likely to spread the virus; when the weather is nice, people spend more time outdoors, where they are less likely to get infected,” he added.

Outside of a few articles mentioning the rise in cases, the media has largely ignored the new developments, after spending the summer denouncing DeSantis as an anti-science nutjob. With headlines like “Ron DeSantis has no idea what he’s talking about” and “Ron DeSantis leans into mask-mandate fights as Covid cases soar in Florida,” these headlines are now ignoring any political blame now that Blue states in the north are seeing spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

Local Michigan outlets, however, are covering the increases, and appear to side with Geraghty’s assessment. WXYZ reported that while most of the country is seeing decreases in cases, Michigan’s cases “remain nearly twice as high as much larger states like Florida and California.” From the outlet:

So why is Michigan different? Infectious disease experts say there are no easy answers.

The state has been through multiple surges of COVID-19. The latest is fueled by the delta variant, and as we move into the colder months, Michigan remains one of just five states that have yet to stop rising cases.

According to Dr. Matthew Sims of Beaumont Health, it is not unusual for Michigan COVID-19 cases to ebb and flow out of step with the rest of the nation. He said that’s just one of the ways the delta surge is unique. Past surges have been shorter and sharper.

Sims said the delta surge has seen cases climb slowly since the end of June, with the peak not as pronounced.

“Because it sort of spread out over more time, that’s probably more cases overall involved. The reasons for these aren’t 100% clear,” he told the outlet.

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