Healthcare Economy

COVID-19: This Is the Safest County in the Safest State

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States just crossed 10 million, as new ones surge at a rate of well over 100,000 a day. The spread of the cases remains uneven. The hardest-hit parts of the nation are currently in the Plains States. In upper New England, the virus is much less aggressive.

In Vermont, confirmed cases are pegged at 4.5 per 100,000 people, the lowest rate of any state in the country. The state with the highest level is North Dakota at 173.6.

Even inside the borders of Vermont, the presence of the disease is very different from county to county. In Rutland County, the figure for confirmed cases per 100,000 people is 0.5, the lowest in the state.

Rutland County is about halfway between Vermont’s southern border with Massachusetts and its northern border with Canada. It is just across the state’s western border from the area of New York State that is home to Lake George. It is also close to the popular ski areas around Killington.

Rutland is the second-most populous county in Vermont, with 58,191 residents. The population grew steadily from 1970 until 2000. It has tapered off slightly since then. Over 97% of the residents in the county are white. The median household income of $47,027 is about $20,000 below the national average. At 11.8%, the poverty rate is about the same.

Confirmed cases are also unusually low in two other Vermont counties. In Lamoille, they are 0.6 per 100,000, and in Franklin, the figure is 0.9.

One reason the confirmed case counts in Vermont are so low is a very aggressive program to keep out people from other states. As of November 3, according to the Burlington Free Press, “Residents of only six counties in states surrounding Vermont can still travel to the Green Mountain state without quarantining for 14 days, according to an updated travel map issued Tuesday.” Of these, four are in Maine, one is in New York State and one is in Pennsylvania. The state has steadily expanded this list for weeks.

Residents of Vermont, and its counties, also have benefited from low confirmed case rates in states nearby. The confirmed case rate per 100,000 people in Maine is 10.4, which puts it third-lowest among all states. The rate in fourth-place New Hampshire is 13.4.

It is possible that Vermont will remain among the states with low case counts, particularly if it keeps its borders essentially shuttered.

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