The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in the United States at an astonishingly fast pace. According to the Microsoft Bing COVID-19 Tracker, 363,727 Americans have died, which was up by 3,882 yesterday. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that figure could be over 700,000 by April 1. Despite a nearly nationwide spread in deaths that has been damaging in places are small as the Dakotas, many of the fatalities have been in a handful of counties. Fifteen of these have accounted for 20% of America’s fatal COVID-19 cases.
The county with the most coronavirus deaths is Los Angeles County, the largest in the country by population at over 10 million. Some 11,071 people have died of COVID-19 there. California is a major hotspot. Intensive care unit bed use in Los Angeles is close to or at capacity. The pace of these deaths continues to accelerate.
Cook County, next on the list by deaths at 8,523, is home to Chicago, which was hit early in the spread from March through early May.
Almost half of the counties on the list are in and around New York City, which was the primary epicenter early on. Kings County, which is the borough of Brooklyn, has posted 7,788 fatal cases. Queens County has posted 7,700, and New York County, home to Manhattan, has 3,362. Nearby Middlesex County, New Jersey, has posted 2,784 deaths. Essex County, also in New Jersey, has had 2,410. Nassau County is directly east of New York City and has posted 2,431. The total in Suffolk County, also to the east, is 2,376. The number of deaths in and around the city is so high, it almost certainly will not be matched by any other metro area.
The other counties with high death counts also contain some of America’s largest cities. The country with the highest death count after Queens is Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, where fatal cases have reached 5,346. Miami-Dade, just behind Bronx County, has had 4,257. Wayne County, home to Detroit, has had 3,702. Like New York, most of the Detroit deaths came very early in the pandemic. Deaths in Harris County, home to Houston, have reached 3,453. In Philadelphia County, the number is up to 2,524. And in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, they have reached 2,449.
All of this goes to show that large centers of population are at the center of America’s problem. That cuts two ways. The first is that the counties around New York City have had death rates that have sharply slowed. That is largely due to forced shutdowns and pressure on the population to wear masks and social distance. In places like Miami, which are nowhere as strict with these measures, the death toll continues to mount fairly fast.