The spread of COVID-19 across the United States has slowed in the past three weeks. For over a month, confirmed cases rose by an astonishingly high 200,000 or more a day and fatal cases by over 4,000 a day. Currently, the United States, with 27,965,785 confirmed cases, has about a quarter of the world’s total. Deaths from the disease, at 491,096, are at about a fifth by the same comparison.
Concern continues about another quickening of the spread of the disease for two reasons. The first is that variants of the disease that have emerged in the past several weeks spread more quickly than the version of the virus most common in the United States for the past year. And vaccination rates remain well behind levels promised late last year. Scientists still believe as many as 600,000 people will be dead from the pandemic by early summer.
Other than raw numbers, scientists, doctors and public policy officials have another way they measure cases. By looking at the numbers of cases and deaths per 100,000 people, they can make comparisons from county to county and state to state, regardless of varying populations. By that yardstick, one American county has more people dying than any other, by far.
Deaths per 100,000 averaged over the past 14 days in Borden County, Texas, number 21.48, which is about double the next hardest-hit county in America. Borden County is south of Lubbock and about halfway between Dallas and the border of Texas and New Mexico. The county has only 641 residents. Among those, 80% are white and almost 20% are Hispanic. The median household income sits at about $72,000, according to the U.S. Census, slightly above the national average. The poverty rate at 10.6% is slightly below the national average.
The county with the next worst figure based on fatal cases averaged over the past 14 days per 100,000 people is Glascock, Georgia. Its number is 11.87. This county’s population is 3,009. It is followed by McMullen, Texas, at 10.79. It has a population of 662. It is southwest of San Antonio, about halfway to the Mexican border.
Next on the list, Van Buren, Tennessee, has a figure of 10.02 and a population of 5,760. It is followed by Clay, North Carolina, at 8.59, with 10,813 residents.
To show how the disease has ravaged even remote, small places, note that the Dallas Morning News reported last August, “Coronavirus doesn’t exist in Borden County. Not one positive case has been recorded, something only three counties in Texas and 21 nationwide can claim.” Now, the county is in as much trouble as any in the United States.