Special Report

This is the County in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 514,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 34.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 600,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a faster rate. In the past week, there were an average of 20.0 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — an increase from the week prior, when there were an average of 10.3 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.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA, metro area consists of Black Hawk County, Bremer County, and Grundy County. In the past week, there were an average of 13.1 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Waterloo residents, less than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there was an average of 10.7 daily new cases per 100,000 Waterloo residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Black Hawk County. There were an average of 15.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Black Hawk County during the past week, the most of the three counties in Waterloo with available data.

Case growth in the Waterloo metro area varies widely at the county level. In Grundy County, for example, there were an average of 3.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Waterloo and far more than the case growth rate in Black Hawk County.

Just as Black Hawk County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Waterloo area, it also has the highest incidence of cases overall. As of July 29, there were a total of 12,598.9 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Black Hawk County, the most of the three counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 10,550.2 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

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 Black Hawk County, unemployment peaked at 12.1% in April 2020. As of April 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 4.3%.

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 July 29. 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 Iowa 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 July. 29 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending July. 22 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Black Hawk County 132,393 15.5 12.3 12,598.9 240.9
2 Bremer County 24,864 5.2 5.7 11,772.0 253.4
3 Grundy County 12,299 3.5 3.5 11,326.1 268.3