Many agencies that share the task of monitoring and reporting COVID-19 data will be observing upcoming holidays, which could affect data trends for the region.
In 2020, we saw a significant drop in both testing and cases on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, likely due to less testing opportunities (offices closed), as well as less people seeking testing as they themselves observed the holidays. We also saw delayed reporting over these holiday periods and, in particular, those that fell over a long weekend.
After each winter holiday in 2020, we saw high, single-day reports due to “catch-up reporting,” or reporting of any data that occurred during the holiday period but was not recorded until offices reopened. This day sometimes varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so the region-level impacts were distributed over a few-day period. You can see an example in the screenshots below or on the data live on the hub.
In short, decreases in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season may be due to reporting irregularities and should be interpreted with caution. We hope this historical look will help ensure better informed interpretation of COVID-19 data as we enter the holiday season in 2021.