Trend watch and what's new this week
U.S. virus trends have continued to decline sharply, including new cases, hospitalizations, and the death rate (slide 3). This is corroborated by the regional U.S. and the state-level views of infections (slide 7).
Still, the percentage of new COVID-19 cases for elementary school children (ages 5-11) is climbing (slide 8). Meanwhile, the older cohorts—ages 12-15 and 16-17—have held fairly steady, even through the omicron spike.
This week, we take a deeper dive into the rebound in travel and activity-based data that has occurred in recent weeks. We highlight air travel (slide 9) and community mobility (slide 10). Hotel occupancy has also rebounded (slide 2). While some of the recent improvement is certainly related to the omicron spike fading, a February rebound is typical.
We also updated monthly sales at restaurant and bars (slide 11), which declined in three of the past four months. The likely culprit for the weakness may be the spike in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, which impacted labor and supply chains.
We continue to see mixed economic data from January, including the aforementioned monthly sales at restaurant and bars. However, overall retail sales for January surged 3.8%, while existing home sales jumped 6.7%. Additionally, the activity-based data has continued to strengthen in February.
We are encouraged we’re nearing the light at the end of the mixed economic data tunnel. That said, it’s important to remain mindful that winter storms can still occur in late February or early March, particularly in the upper Midwest and Northeast.
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