This edition quantifies the recent weeks’ decline in new daily COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The seven-day rolling average for new daily cases fell for 42 straight days from January 12 through February 22. New COVID deaths decreased 6.7% this week (February 17-23) from the previous week (February 10-16). Also, new weekly COVID-19 cases in nursing homes have declined drastically since vaccines began being administered – with an overall 85% decline in new weekly cases occurring in the past week relative to mid-December.
This week, 12.7 million vaccine doses were administered, which is about 36% higher than last week’s total. As of February 24, approximately 65.5 million vaccine doses have been received. In all states, at least 10% of the population has now received at least one dose. 13.6% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 6.2% is now fully vaccinated.
This edition conveys some relatively positive news including that daily new cases are down more than two-thirds (68%) since January 12, and the 7-day rolling average for new daily cases has now fallen for 36 straight days.
In addition, this edition assesses case trends by grouping the US into four regions (Midwest, Northeast, South, and West). Both the Midwest and the South have experienced at least two-thirds of their COVID deaths to date since October 1, while in the Northeast 41% of its deaths occurred during this timeframe. Also, more than 66% of all confirmed cases so far have occurred since October 1, compared to 26% prior to June 15 and 8% from June 16 – September 30.
Finally, we provide a weekly update of vaccinations. This week, states administered 9.3 million vaccine doses, which is about 20% lower than last week’s total.
The New Jersey Association of Health Plans enlisted the Menges Group to evaluate New Jersey’s Medicaid prescription drug costs and assess the potential impacts of a pharmacy carve-out approach, whereby the prescription drug benefit would be removed from the MCOs’ responsibility and paid for in the fee-for-service (FFS) setting. We also assess the impacts of two potential policy changes, including maintaining MCO responsibility for the prescription drug benefit but requiring the use of the same preferred drug list (PDL) and MCOs’ mandatory use of a single Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) subcontractor.
We estimate that carving pharmacy benefits out of the MCO benefit package will cost the State of New Jersey $51 million in the first year, with cumulative state costs across the first five years of the carve-out totaling $454 million. Additionally, we find that due to a weakened ability to manage drug mix at the “front end,” moving to a uniform DHS-driven PDL will cost the State of New Jersey $3 million in the first year, with cumulative state costs across the first five years totaling $26 million. Finally, our analyses show that a policy approach of requiring all MCOs to use the same PBM is also unlikely to yield savings.
This edition tabulates COVID death and case progression among the 25 most populous U.S. counties (which collectively are home to 21% of the country’s residents). We’ve also update vaccination data by state – as of February 10, all states have administered one or more doses of the vaccine to at least 10% of their population.
This edition of the 5 Slide Series provides more information than we usually include. Given that we are now a year into the pandemic, many of our tabulations contrast what occurred during the first 6 months with the most recent 6 months – looking at confirmed cases and deaths by race, age cohort, gender, and nursing home residence. We also assess US COVID death rates relative to those in all other large countries, compare death rates between Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning states, and present the past week’s vaccination trends in each state.