Healthcare Economy

COVID-19: This Is the Deadliest County in the Deadliest State in America

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in America rose over 74,133 yesterday, which is a record, to 9,282,300. Many experts expected that figure could routinely move above 100,000 a day. Fatal cases in the United States rose to 230,900, a one-day gain of 427. There is a worry that the fatal case per day figure could rise back above 2,000, which it topped for several days in April.

Pandemic deaths by state vary widely, and in some parts of the country they are several times the national average. The hardest-hit state by far now is North Dakota. The deaths per 100,000 people figure stands at 1.4. By way of contrast, the numbers in the states where the rate is lowest are below 0.1 per 100,000.

Deaths within states also vary widely. North Dakota is no exception. In Logan County, deaths per 100,000 are a breathtaking 23.2. It is followed by LaMoure at 21.2 and Dickey at 14.7.

Logan County is sparsely populated. The U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate of its population in 2019 was 2,189. Of those, 98% were white. At $52,262, the median household income was about $15,000 below the national average. The poverty rate was 10.7%, about a point below the national average.

Census data also show the county has lost population every decade since 1940, when the population was 1,850. The county covers 1,011 square miles, so, it is sparsely populated. That is something it shares with the state. North Dakota ranks 48th in population among all states at 762,062. It ranks 16th among states in square mileage at 68,994.

The population and square mileage numbers show that a sparse population is no longer a protection from the spread of COVID-19. According to the Grand Forks Herald, “North Dakota remains the national leader in multiple outbreak rankings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reporting the most COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the country over the last week.”

There is a consensus about what went wrong in North Dakota. The state never was effectively shutdown to slow the spread. Social distancing rules and regulations, as well as enforcement of mask-wearing rules, were rare or did not exist. The state government took what most other states would view as inadequate action to protect its own population.

When raw totals are the primary measure, U.S. confirmed cases are concentrated in the largest states by population. Texas has 941,851 and California has 928,240. In Florida, there are 800,216 cases, and New York has 507,913. New York State still leads the country in fatal cases at 33,128, primarily because of the brutal spread of the disease in March and April. Both the rise of confirmed cases and fatal cases in New York State have dropped to among the lowest in the nation.

The United States is not the only nation in the world with confirmed case counts in the seven figures. India has 8,136,166. The coronavirus death count there stands at 121,681. Health care experts say that because of the size of the nation geographically, and its relatively primitive health care systems, more than 60 million people actually have been infected, which is about eight times the official number. The Indian Council of Medical Research puts the figure as high as 63 million.

Brazil has a confirmed case count of 5,499,875. New cases recently have risen at a rate of over 20,000 a day. Its COVID-19 deaths number is 159,104. As with India, Brazil’s figures are too low. It is nearly impossible to count cases in the nation’s interior. In the poorest parts of the largest cities, packed with impoverished people, the disease also is difficult to track.

Russia has 1,599,976 cases, and fatal cases there number 27,656. Most experts say the death count is far too low to be real. It may be that the government has kept counts down to make it appear it has the pandemic under control. Confirmed cases rose by 18,283 yesterday, among the highest one-day counts in Russia since the pandemic began.

France is the fifth nation to post total confirmed cases above a million. It currently has 1,331,984. Fatal cases stand at 36,565. Spain is the sixth with over a million confirmed cases. It has 1,185,678 cases and 35,878 fatal ones.

Argentina is the seventh nation to post a total of a million confirmed cases or more. The figure for the country has hit 1,143,800, and coronavirus deaths there number 30,442. The last nation with confirmed cases in Colombia at 1,053,122. It has had 30,926 fatal cases.

From North Dakota to Colombia, each location shares several things in common. Among them is that more people have contracted COVID-19 than official figures show, and in many places more people have died from the disease than have been reported.

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