Special Report

These Are the Counties In the Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 699,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 82.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 990,000 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 31.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 26.7 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 36.8 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 25.1% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Raleigh-Cary, NC, metro area consists of Wake County, Johnston County, and Franklin County. In the past week, there were an average of 64.8 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Raleigh residents, greater than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is an increase from the week prior, when there was an average of 45.1 daily new cases per 100,000 Raleigh residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Raleigh-Cary metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Wake County. There were an average of 71.6 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Wake County during the past week, the most of the three counties in Raleigh with available data.

Case growth in the Raleigh metro area varies at the county level. In Johnston County, for example, there were an average of 32.2 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Raleigh and more than the case growth rate in Wake County.

While Wake County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Raleigh area, it does not have the highest incidence of cases overall. As of May 26, there were a total of 28,605.2 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Wake County, the third most of the three counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 25,463.1 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 Wake County, unemployment peaked at 11.5% in May 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 4.1%.

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 May 26. 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 North Carolina 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 May 26 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending May 19 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Wake County 1,069,079 71.6 50.0 28,605.2 104.9
2 Franklin County 66,362 52.5 29.1 31,588.9 119.0
3 Johnston County 196,870 32.2 23.7 30,855.4 229.6

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