Special Report

COVID-19: Pine Bluff, AR Metro Area Among the Most Dangerous in America

The U.S. reported over 61,000 new cases of coronavirus on May 11, bringing the total count to more than 32.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 576,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a steady rate. In the past week, there were an average of 14.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 15.7 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While new data shows that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is high in almost every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks and superspreader events. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between different neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

The Pine Bluff, AR metro area consists of Jefferson County, Lincoln County, and Cleveland County. As of May 11, there were 14,349.9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 Pine Bluff residents, the 13th highest rate of all 383 metro areas with available data. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 10,032.8 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

The incidence of coronavirus cases depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Pine Bluff metro area, Lincoln County has the highest incidence of COVID-19 cases. As of May 11, there were 23,790.4 cases per 100,000 residents in Lincoln County, the most of any county in Pine Bluff, and far greater than the county with the lowest incidence. In Cleveland County, there were 11,724.9 cases per 100,000 residents — the least of any county in Pine Bluff.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In the Pine Bluff metro area, unemployment peaked at 10.7% in April 2020. As of March 2021, the metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.5%.

To determine how the incidence of COVID-19 in the Pine Bluff, AR metro area compares to the rest of the country, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked metro areas based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.

These are all the counties in Arkansas where COVID-19 is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).

FIPS MSA Population Confirmed COVID-19 cases as of May 11 Confirmed COVID-19 cases as of May 11 per 100,000 residents Cumulative COVID-19 deaths as of May 11 Cumulative COVID-19 deaths as of May 11 per 100,000 residents
38220 Pine Bluff, AR 90,865 13,039 14,349.9 239 263.0
27860 Jonesboro, AR 131,241 16,612 12,657.6 256 195.1
22220 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR 514,259 61,411 11,941.6 787 153.0
22900 Fort Smith, AR-OK 249,777 28,095 11,248.0 487 195.0
26300 Hot Springs, AR 98,555 10,145 10,293.7 259 262.8
30780 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 737,015 73,545 9,978.8 1,145 155.4