The spread of COVID-19 in America traditionally is measured in a number of ways. The most prominent are by confirmed cases and fatal cases. At this point, confirmed cases number 11,279,503 and fatal ones 250,485. Another way is by the number of cases per 1,000 people. It is a sign of how rapidly the disease is spreading. Only seven states have counts of one or more per 1,000, which shows that the increase in the disease among these populations is surging and these states have become hotspots.
The states that currently meet this standard, using data from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, are Montana (1.19), North Dakota (1.21), Minnesota (1.34), Wisconsin (1.09), South Dakota (1.36), Wyoming (1.06) and Indiana (1.00). Oklahoma barely misses the list at 0.99.
With few exceptions, these states have a relatively small number of confirmed cases compared to the rest of the United States. Undoubtedly, this is because they also have small populations. Wyoming has 23,193 confirmed cases, which makes it the seventh-lowest state by the confirmed case measure. Montana is 15th lowest on the list with 48,101 confirmed cases. North Dakota is 17th lowest with 64,891 confirmed cases, and South Dakota is 19th lowest with a count of 66,278.
The New York Times identifies states based on its own measurement of COVID-19 cases. The states where the spread is worst are those where the figures are “higher and staying high.” The seven hotspot states above are all on this list as well.
Most of these states have started to take extraordinary measures to stem the spread of the disease. In North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum had resisted standard methods used to slow the spread. However, according to the Associated Press, “After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, the state’s Republican governor relented in an effort to stem a coronavirus surge that is among the worst in the U.S. and that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals.”
Montana Department of Health and Human Services Lead Epidemiologist Stacey Anderson has laid out an extremely restrictive list of how people should celebrate Thanksgiving. Among them is that people should not gather at all in person but should share their meal virtually.
The rules in both Montana and North Dakota are already in place in most other states.
The seven current hotspot states likely will remain near or at the top of the list for some time. The disease has spread almost unchecked in many of these places for weeks, so even with new regulations, the rise will not decelerate immediately.