Special Report

These Are the Counties In the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 222,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 79.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 970,000 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 9.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 8.9 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While COVID-19 has spread to nearly every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks. 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 neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

In the 50 largest metro areas, the incidence of coronavirus grew at an average rate of 11.0 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 26.8% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX, metro area consists of Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and six other counties. In the past week, there were an average of 7.3 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Houston residents, in line with the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is a decrease from the week prior, when there was an average of 18.0 daily new cases per 100,000 Houston residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Fort Bend County. There were an average of 16.2 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Fort Bend County during the past week, the most of the nine counties in Houston with available data.

Case growth in the Houston metro area varies widely at the county level. In Chambers County, for example, there were an average of 2.3 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Houston and far more than the case growth rate in Fort Bend County.

While Fort Bend County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Houston area, it does not have the highest incidence of cases overall. As of April 13, there were a total of 23,908.1 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Fort Bend County, the fifth most of the nine counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 24,542.2 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

The pandemic has led to the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses around the country. These changes have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In Fort Bend County, unemployment peaked at 13.0% in April 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 6.9%.

To determine the county in every metropolitan area where COVID-19 is growing the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked counties according to the average number of new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days ending April 13. To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data up 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 not seasonally adjusted.

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

Rank in MSA County Population New daily cases per 100,000, week ending April 13 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending April 6 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Fort Bend County 765,394 16.2 29.6 23,908.1 158.6
2 Waller County 51,832 14.9 10.1 18,475.1 206.4
3 Liberty County 83,702 9.0 15.6 21,616.0 481.5
4 Montgomery County 571,949 8.9 12.6 24,351.6 225.2
5 Austin County 29,764 8.3 6.3 19,244.7 245.3
6 Galveston County 332,885 6.6 7.1 28,736.7 255.0
7 Harris County 4,646,630 5.9 18.8 21,938.8 234.6
8 Brazoria County 360,677 3.7 5.9 25,906.8 271.7
9 Chambers County 41,305 2.3 2.7 24,970.3 167.0

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