The spread of COVID-19 has become worse in the United States recently based on the growth of confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Hospitalizations, at over 125,000 sit at a record. Confirmed cases yesterday reached 22,331,368 yesterday, up 281,916. Fatal cases reached 375,039, up by 3,574. These numbers vary widely from state to state and county to county which is the traditional measurement metric. Another way to track cases is by Congressional district. Based on this yardstick, only one district out of the 435 in America has over 100,000 confirmed cases. This is South Dakota’s at-large congressional district which has 100,615. The state has only this one district because of its relatively small population of 884,659. A typical Congresssionaly district covers about 780,000 people.
Congressional district data is tracked by researchers at the Geographic Insights Lab based at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis, and Microsoft AI for Health. The district with the lowest count is Vermont’s at-large congressional district which has 8,611. This stands to reason because Vermont has the lowest confirmed case count among all states, by far.
The South Dakota figure demonstrates how the raging spread of the disease has affected the state. For weeks, it had the highest growth rate, the highest confirmed cases among 100,000 people based on a seven-day average, and the highest fatal case rate by the same measure. While it no longer leads the nation based on these figures, much damage has already been done. Deaths in the state have reached 1,570.
While South Dakota is 45th in the nation based on population, it ranks 37th based on confirmed cases.
The disaster in South Dakota is at least in part due to the state government’s reaction to the disease. Governor Kristi Noem has been blamed. And her approach violated most of the rules for slowing the spread of the disease. Recently, she commented “The state hasn’t issued lockdowns or mandates. We haven’t shut down businesses or closed churches. In fact, our state has never even defined what an “essential business” is. That, quite simply, is not the government’s role.” The comments stand in contrast to actions taken by most other state governors.
A few other Congressional districts may break the 100,000 confirmed case barrier. The count in the North Dakota at-large congressional district has reached 94,438. North Dakota’s approach to the disease has been similar to South Dakota’s. The advice of medical experts and scientists has been disregarded.