Confirmed COVID-19 cases in America rose over 129,484 yesterday, which is a record, to 9,960,379. Many experts expected that figure could routinely move above 100,000 a day. Fatal cases in the United States rose to 240,668, a one-day gain of 1,314. 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 1.9. 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 Dickey, deaths per 100,000 are a breathtaking 29.3. It is followed by Towner County at 19.6 and Pierce County at 10.8.
Dickey County is sparsely populated. The U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate of its population in 2019 was 4,872. Of those, 98% were white. At $29,231, the median household income was about half the national average. The poverty rate was 11.6%, about a point below the national average.
Census data also show the county has lost population every decade but one since 1930, when the population was 10,877. The county covers 1,142 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 1,008,985 and California has 972,801. In Florida, there are 837,077 cases, and New York has 530,354. New York State still leads the country in fatal cases at 33,287, 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 8,510,219. The coronavirus death count there stands at 186,124. 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 5,653,561. New cases recently have risen at a rate of over 20,000 a day. Its COVID-19 deaths number is 162,286. 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 1,774,334 cases, and fatal cases there number 30,537. 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 20,498 yesterday, among the highest one-day counts in Russia since the pandemic began.