The pace of the spread of COVID-19 had slowed across America. Increases in daily fatal and confirmed cases are still about half what they were seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, 560,601 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases have reached 30,925,269, 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, 32% 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, 207,891,295 doses have been delivered in the United States and 165,053,746 of them have been administered.
Variants of the disease 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. This variant also could be more deadly. 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. More people flew over the Easter weekend than any other weekend since the start of the pandemic. This kind of activity has led to public health officials predicting that fourth wave.
Measuring cases per 100,000 people allows easier comparisons from place to place. When measured by the yardstick of new weekly cases per capita based on the average of the past seven days, Michigan is the state having the most difficulty, at 64 cases per 100,000. The next state is New Jersey at 49. Arkansas is at the other end of the spectrum with a figure of just five.
The Michigan county with the highest number is St. Clair. Its figure is 144. The county is located northeast of Detroit and across the St. Clair River from Canada. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, St. Clair County has a population of 159,128, and 91% of residents are white. The median household income in the county is $56,951, which is modestly below the national average. The 10.4% poverty rate is about the same.
Many other counties near the top of the list of new weekly cases per capita based on the average of the past seven days are also in Michigan. Figures are particularly high, compared to the national average, in Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola and Macomb counties. There is no tight cluster of counties with COVID-19 infection problems this severe anywhere else in the United States.