The pace of the spread of COVID-19 had recently slowed across America. Increases in daily fatal and confirmed cases are still about half what they were seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, 560,220 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases have reached 30,884,407, or about 25% of the global number. Hospitalizations, which had reached over 100,000 during the peak wave, dropped into the thousands. However, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports they have begun to rise again in more than half the states.
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, 31%of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 18% are fully vaccinated. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, the one from Johnson & Johnson requires just a single dose. According to The New York Times, 207,866,645 doses have been delivered in the United States and 161,688,422 of them 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. Just two weeks ago, the nation’s newspapers were filled with reports of large college parties in Florida with hundreds of people in close proximity without masks. This kind of activity has led to public health officials predicting that fourth wave.
Measuring cases, hospitalizations and deaths per 100,000 people allows easier comparisons from place to place. The New York Times uses this method to determine hotspots in an analysis it calls “counties with the highest number of recent cases per resident”. Its yardstick is new cases per 100,000 based on an average of the most recent seven days.
Based on this analysis, Chattahoochee County, GA is America’s worst hotspot with 177 news cases per 100,000 residents. Chattahoochee County is next to the city of Columbus, southwest of Atlanta, and along the border of Georgia with Alabama.
According to the U.S. Census, Chattahoochee County has 10,907 residents. Fifty-seven percent of the population is White, and just over 19% is Black. Its median household income is $47,096, about $20,000 below the national average. The poverty rate at 18.5% is well above the national number.