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COVID by the Numbers: January 17, 2021

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Joshua Seong / Verywell

  • Global Cases: 93,194,922
  • Global Deaths: 2,014,729
  • U.S. Cases: 23,653,919
  • U.S. Deaths: 394,495

As of January 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 23,653,919 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

California and Texas lead the count with over two million total positive cases each. At a per capita level, the daily average in the last week was highest in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.

In the last seven days, California experienced the highest number of COVID-19 deaths at 3,727 followed by Texas at 2,140.

COVID-19 patterns vary widely depending on community behaviors, including whether or not people are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. For a look at how a state's cases and deaths in the past week stack up to cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic, see the chart below.

The current total cases and deaths in each state since the beginning of the pandemic and in the last 7 days.

How Does the CDC Get the Data? 

Each state and the U.S. territories report certain information about COVID-19 to the CDC every day. A lot of this data actually is collected and reported at the county level. Even when there is not a pandemic, there are certain infectious diseases that states always need to report, meaning that most public health departments are aware of the need to collect and share data with the CDC.

That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded more from state health departments, and having to collect and report data on COVID cases, deaths, and transmission has not been easy for everyone. 

All 50 states are reporting to the CDC, as well as specific jurisdictions. For example, New York City reports its own data separate from New York state. 

What Information Do States Report?

States tell the CDC about how many cases of COVID-19 they have in the state, as well as how many people have died from COVID-19. States report the total number of cases since they started keeping track back in January (which includes both confirmed and probable cases—though not all jurisdictions report these figures) and the number of new cases and deaths reported within the last seven days. 

Information about COVID-19 testing, hospitalizations, and the number of people who have recovered are also reported. In some cases, the data is presented as a percentage. In other cases, you might see the data displayed as “the rate per 1,000 people” within a given timeframe. 

Since each state is not the same size, looking at the number of cases or deaths relative to how many people live in the state tells you more about the spread of the virus than simply looking at the raw data. A high number of cases in a state with a small population would mean something different than that same number of cases in a state that is three times as big.

States also report some information that is not accessible to the public; the restricted data contains more specific fields that could potentially compromise patient privacy. This data is more meant for public health officials and researchers. 

Some states provide data about how communities have been affected by COVID-19. For example, the CDC displays data that shows how often people are going out in certain parts of the country and relates this data on mobility to the level of virus transmission in those areas. 

Some states also provide information about specific populations, such as healthcare workers and people who are pregnant. 

How Accurate Is the Data?

The numbers reported to the CDC are as accurate as a state can provide, though they can change. While the numbers are updated daily, there are sometimes lags over the weekend or over holidays. Some states have a backlog of tests from weeks ago, meaning that the data reported is a little behind the current situation.

The totals that are reported sometimes include probable (or suspected) cases and deaths that have not been confirmed. However, some places do not report suspected cases or deaths—only those that have been confirmed. At some point, it might turn out that those cases were not related to COVID-19 after all, and these cases would be dropped from the report.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are people who get COVID-19 and do not have symptoms. If they aren’t sick and do not realize that they were exposed, they are not likely to get tested. Unless states had the ability to do more widespread testing that included people without symptoms, it’s likely that they are undercounting the total number of COVID-19 cases because asymptomatic people are not included if they do not get a test.

In some circumstances, people who go to the emergency room for symptoms of COVID-19 might be diagnosed with another illness, like the flu or pneumonia. Data on ER visits that could be related to COVID-19 are not reported by all jurisdictions, however.

The data that is reported doesn’t look the same coming from all the different hospitals in the U.S. because healthcare systems do not code diagnoses in the same way. In some cases, the coding classification changes which could affect whether a case is counted as a COVID-19 case or not.

Similarly, deaths from COVID-19 might be missed if something like pneumonia is listed as the cause of death on a person’s death certificate or in a physician’s documentation rather than the death being attributed to COVID-19.

There are also situations where a person who is sick or has been exposed to someone with COVID does not seek care or does not have access to tests. 

It’s also possible that a state has counted cases or deaths that actually “belong” to another state’s totals. This can happen if someone lives in one state, travels to another, and gets COVID-19 while they are traveling. 

Due to these factors, it’s normal for case and death numbers to change—in fact, they are changing constantly.

What Can I Tell About COVID-19 In My State By Looking At the Numbers?

There are several pieces of data to consider if you want to understand the COVID-19 situation where you live. While the most straight-forward numbers are the total case and death counts, these figures don’t give you the full story. When you’re looking at statistics, context is important.

It can be more helpful to look at how the number of cases compares to how many tests your state is doing. If your state is not testing many people, the number of positive cases will not really reflect how many people in your state likely have COVID-19. 

It’s also important to remember that the total numbers—both in terms of testing and confirmed cases—are likely missing people who are asymptomatic. Remember that a person can have COVID-19 without getting sick, but they can still spread it to others without realizing it. 

Additionally, looking at the totals from the beginning of the pandemic to the present doesn’t tell you the same information as looking at 7-day averages. You can get a better sense of how fast cases and deaths are rising by looking at how the numbers have changed in the last week as opposed to nearly a year.

If you’re looking at the number of deaths, remember that those numbers are slower to change than the total number of cases. There can be a “lag” between a rise in cases and a rise in hospitalizations or deaths because it takes some time for people to get sick.

Will the CDC Track How Many Vaccines States Are Giving? 

The CDC has a program called VTrckS, which healthcare providers can use to order vaccines. This helps them track inventory and delivery, but is not specific to people receiving the vaccine. According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook, there is a plan for implementing a nationally coordinated effort to track and analyze vaccine data.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. World Health Organization. WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC COVID Data Tracker.

  3. The New York Times. Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count. Updated January 6, 2021.