The pace of the spread of COVID-19 has slowed across America. Increases in daily fatal cases and confirmed cases are about half what they were seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, 550,726 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases have reached 30,223,587, or about 25% of the global number.
The range of the severity of the disease by state and county varies considerably. In a very small number of the 3,143 U.S. counties and county-equivalents, not a single person has died of COVID-19.
The pace of the spread of the disease remains in part a race between vaccinations and the rising number of potentially dangerous variants. So far, 26% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 14% are fully vaccinated. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, the one from Johnson & Johnson requires just one. According to The New York Times, 173,525,335 doses have been delivered in the United States and 133,305,295 doses have been administered.
Variants are among the dangers epidemiologist and public health officials worry about. At least one, first identified in the United Kingdom, could soon account for most new U.S. cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently tracks three variants for the public. They have been found in all 50 states, and a number of other variants have emerged that the CDC does not report on to the public.
Additionally, much of the country has “opened up,” and this has caused worries that there will be a fourth wave of the disease. The nation’s newspapers were filled with reports of large college parties in Florida with hundreds of people in close proximity without masks.
One of the ways public health officials measure cases and deaths is per 100,000 people. This allows for comparisons between states and counties regardless of their absolute population counts. By this measure, one county is currently the most deadly. As of March 24, Belmont County, Ohio, is the most deadly with a rate of 6.99 deaths per 100,000 people averaged over that past 14 days.
Belmont County is on Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania and is southwest of Pittsburgh. The July 1, 2019, census estimate puts its population at 67,006. Over 92% of that population is white. Its median household income of $50,904 is well below the national average. The 11.6% unemployment rate is close to the national numbers.
The distinction of being the deadliest county soon will move elsewhere, as it has many times over the course of the pandemic. Yet, the scars will remain.
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