COVID-19 deaths and confirmed cases have risen at record levels over the last several weeks. According to the Microsoft Bing COVID-19 Tracker, U.S. confirmed cases stand at 20,596,260, up 264,475 yesterday. Experts worry the increase could begin to top 300,000. Confirms fatal cases sit at 353,309, up by 2,456. On some days, the increase has moved above 3,000.
The spread of the disease, based on cases, deaths, and hospitalizations has been uneven. What started as a blitz of COVID-19 in New York State and Illinois triggered tremendous death rates in places like New York City and the counties that surround it. This happened in March and April. The disease then rapidly spread to the south and west, particularly in the summer. Several weeks ago, it began to hit the upper Midwest hard, particularly South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Now, it has moved back to the west, particularly California, with a vengeance.
Among the measures used to gauge the severity of the disease is cases per 100,000 averaged over the most recent seven days. The New York Times keeps this data as “counties with the highest number of recent cases per resident”. The county at the top of that list now is Pershing, Nevada. The cases per 100,000 stand at 1,045, almost triple the next county on the national list.
The U.S. Census puts the population of Pershing County at 6,725. Geographically, it sits in the northern tier of Nevada, east of Reno. Sixty-four percent of the population is White. Another 25% is Hispanic.
The median household income in Pershing County is $50,491 according to the Census estimate. That is nearly $20,000 below the national average. The poverty rate is 17.6%, well above the national number.
Deaths in Pershing County sit much below most counties in Nevada, due almost certainly to its low population. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, as of December 31, “Forty-three deaths were reported in Clark County, nine in Washoe County, five in Carson City, and one each in Lyon and Pershing counties.”
At some point soon, Pershing County will not be at the top of the list. The disease will surge in some other location, a trend that will continue for several more months, at least.