Currently, the United States has 19,297,396 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That increased by 193,404 yesterday and now routinely rises by over 200,000 in a day. Coronavirus deaths stand at 336,761, up by 1,496. The daily fatal case increase has been as much as 3,000. The way that confirmed cases and deaths are usually broken out geographically is by state and county. However, the numbers can be sorted by congressional district as well. One district has nearly 94,000 cases, the most in America.
Congressional districts number 435 nationwide. The population of each is supposed to be about 771,000. That number was based on the 2010 Census, so as people have moved, the number now varies from district to district today. The average figure will be reset because of the new 2020 Census, and some congressional districts will be redrawn geographically as a consequence.
As with states and cities, COVID-19 case counts vary sharply from district to district. The Geographic Insights Lab at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis and Microsoft AI for Health have put together an analysis of COVID-19 numbers by congressional district. The project’s researchers write that it will “allow elected officials and their constituents to monitor and develop testing strategies, vaccine deployment strategies, and other measures to enable their districts to open safely.”
The average number of cases across all congressional districts is slightly above 40,000 now. The district with the highest count covers all of South Dakota, which means the state has only one district. The definition of the overlap of state and district creates an “at-large” congressional district.
The confirmed case count for South Dakota’s at-large congressional district is 93,631, the highest in America. The figure should not be surprising.
South Dakota is among the states with the worst outbreaks over the past month. On top of the confirmed case count, the state has had 1,446 deaths. Several counties with the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days are in South Dakota. Of the five U.S. counties with the highest deaths per 100,000, four are in South Dakota.
The district is represented by Dusty Johnson, who was re-elected last month with 81% of the vote.
A great deal of the responsibility for the horrible COVID-19 situation in South Dakota has been placed with Governor Kristi Noem, who has refused to mandate mask wearing. She recently invited bar owners in neighboring Minnesota where they have been shut down, to move to South Dakota. On her Twitter account, she posted, “Come to South Dakota! We respect your rights. We won’t shut you down.”
With the national election over, there may be little pressure on members of Congress to take responsibility for the spread of COVID-19 inside their districts. However, now that these figures are public, people have another milepost to measure the spread of the disease.