The spread of COVID-19 in America has slowed by several critical measures. Fatal cases, at 512,558, currently rise by about 2,000 a day, which is down from over twice as many several weeks ago. However, the figure remains 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases number 28,672,191 and increase by about 70,000 a day now. That is down from a rate of 200,000 a day at the peak. Nevertheless, the total remains 25% of the world’s figure. Hospitalizations have fallen by almost half from their worst, and hospitals across the country no longer have overflowing intensive care units.
One reason for the decline is the rise in vaccinations, although the pace remains slower than the one forecast by the Trump administration late last year. About 14% of American adults have been given one or more doses of vaccine. Only 6.5% have received two shots. In total, 91,673,010 doses have been delivered. From those, 68,274,117 shots have been given, or about 74% of doses.
Scientists, doctors and public health officials use measures beyond raw numbers to track the spread of the disease. Among those employed most often are numbers of deaths and cases per 100,000 people. This allows them to compare states and counties regardless of population size.
The state with the worst deaths per 100,000 people, measured on a daily average of the past seven days, is Virginia at 1.46. This puts it well ahead of second-place Arizona with a rate of 1.21. At the far end of the list, Alaska has a rate of 0.04.
Covington County is the hardest hit in Virginia, with a rate of 12.04. The county sits in the northwest corner of the state, near the West Virginia border, and north of Roanoke. It has only 5,951 residents, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate for July 1, 2019. That is down 7% from the figure in 2010.
Just under 81% of the population of Covington County is white. Nearly 14% is Black. The county is fairly poor as well. The median household income is $40,655, which is more than $20,000 below the national figure. The poverty rate, at 14.5%, is well above the national average. The median value of an owner-occupied home is $72,900, which is less than a third of the national number.
The size of Covington County by population makes it similar to many other counties hard hit by COVID-19. While death counts in large counties, like Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest with a population of over 10 million, get most of the headlines, the places in the most trouble on a per 100,000 basis are generally quite small.
Covington County will slip from the top of the list, as has been the case since COVID-19 was first diagnosed in the United States on January 21 of last year in Washington State. However, the devastation it will leave behind will linger in the county for years.