The fourth U.S. wave of COVID-19 cases has started.
It’s not yet clear whether the wave will be a big one, or a little swell tamped down by masks, vaccines and successful social distancing efforts. But the total number of new cases in the United States increased to 422,980 in the seven-day period ending March 27, up 11% from the total for the week ending March 20.
The number of cases per 100,000 residents increased to 127. That was up from 115 per 100,000 U.S. residents a week earlier, and up from a recent low of 113 per 100,000 U.S. residents two weeks earlier.
The Washington-based federation says life insurers ought to at least answer basic questions, such as whether they will require applicants to use COVID-19 vaccines, what kinds of tests and test results they’ll require and whether and how standards might vary by applicant age.
Forecasters are predicting that U.S. COVID-19 case counts and the U.S. COVID-19 death numbers will continue to improve over the next four weeks.
Most of the forecasters in the COVID-19 Forecast Hub system say weekly new case counts will be somewhere between 350,000 and 450,000 over the next four weeks, compared with an actual number of about 477,000 recorded during the week that ended March 1.
The forecasters are predicting the number of deaths per week will fall to about 6,000 to 8,000, from about 14,000 per week, over that same four-week period.
Analysts at the Brookings Institution have predicted, based on consumer surveys and demographic data for the period following the 1918 influenza pandemic, that the number of U.S. births could fall by about 300,000 to 500,000 this year, because of health concerns and the effects of the pandemic on the economy.
MetLife has an indication that the Brookings analysts are correct: Enrollees in the group short-term disability plans MetLife runs for employers are filing fewer pregnancy-related STD claims.
MetLife sells employers group STD coverage, and it also administers group STD plans for employers that choose to self-insure.
STD claims for pregnancy-related leave fell 20% between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Phil Bruen, a senior vice president for group life and disability product management at MetLife.
The top federal COVID-19 tracking team says key pandemic intensity indicators improved last week.
The U.S. death rate increased slightly, but the number of new cases fell, and the percentage of people tested who actually had the virus that causes COVID-19 also fell, according to the White House COVID-19 Team Data Strategy and Execution Workgroup.
President Joe Biden’s administration is reorganizing federal pandemic management efforts. The tracking team has left out its usual list of observations and recommendations.
In place of the weekly notes, the team has included a statement indicating that, “The weekly State Profile Reports are currently under review. The format and content may change in coming reports.”
The weekly reports have distilled current knowledge about COVID-19 trends that could shape benefits costs for every life and health product, including annuities, and efforts to ease pandemic-related social distancing rules.
One question is whether the new COVID-19 vaccination program will have any early effect on the pandemic intensity level.