The spread of COVID-19 has slowed considerably since late last year and early this year, when new cases per day averaged well over 100,000 and deaths on some days topped 2,000. Wednesday, new cases in the United States rose by 13,363 to 33,458,134. Fatal cases increased by 407 to 601,407. The United States still has 19% of the world’s total cases and 16% of deaths.
One reason the numbers of cases and deaths have fallen is vaccinations. Fifty-one percent of Americans have received at least one dose. Forty-one percent are fully vaccinated. A total of 366,977,535 doses have been delivered. Out of these, 296,912,892 shots have been given.
One nagging concern as the United States has opened is variants. Some of these spread faster than the dominant strain in the country last year. So far, none is vaccine resistant or causes more deaths. The dangerous COVID-19 variant that the WHO now identifies as delta has spread to dozens of nations.
Parts of the United States remain fairly dangerous. One way public health experts and epidemiologists measure cases and fatalities from place to place is per 100,000 residents. This allows smaller places to be compared to larger ones on an apples-to-apples basis.
Currently, the state with the highest death rate per 100,000 taken as an average over the past 14 days is Kentucky at 0.68. The national figure is 0.12. Kentucky’s Hickman County has the highest death rate per 100,000 by far, at 9.78.
Hickman County is in the far west of the state, near the Tennessee border and northwest of Nashville. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a population of 4,380, almost 86% of which is white. At $42,939, the median household income there is well below the national average. The poverty rate of 16.1% is well above the national number.
One reason Hickman County’s numbers are so troubling is that only 23% of its population is fully vaccinated.