The COVID-19 pandemic exceeded another grim milestone in the U.S., as cases moved above 25 million and reached 25,067,823. That is about a quarter of the world’s total of 98,239,198, which should reach 100 million in a matter of days based on its current daily increase. Deaths in the U.S. have reached 418,093, and the CDC reports that number could reach 500,000 by the middle of February.
There are two sets of theories about what will happen to U.S. cases and deaths now. The first is that the rapid spread brought on by the holiday has begun to fall off and that the pace of new cases and deaths will slow, and perhaps start to fall on a day by day basis. The other is that one or more viral mutations of the disease may spread faster than others. And, one or more of these mutations could be more deadly.
The count, right now, has been fueled by both large cities, and rural areas where the disease has blitzed small towns and counties. The second has most visibly happened in North Dakota and South Dakota, where mercifully it has begun to wane
In terms of large cities, even months after the worst damage was done in New York City in March and April, it remains the hardest-hit area based on fatal cases. Of the 20 counties with the most deaths, four are in New York City. Worst off is Kings County with 7,845. Queens County has 7,942. Bronx County has 5,316. Unlike NYC, Los Angeles is part of only Los Angeles County where deaths are the highest among all counties at 14,894.
Moving back to the issue of the increase in cases, the largest states remain, by far, those with the most confirmed cases. California has 3,140,928. That is more than all but five countries which include the U.S., Brazil, India, Russia, and the U.K.
Texas is next at 2,228,301, followed by Florida at 1,627,603, and New York at 1,309,660.
There are two other major ways confirmed case spread is measured. One is cases per 100,000 based on a seven-day average. Arizona tops the states at 94, followed by South Carolina at 92.
The other way of measurement is states where confirmed cases are high and getting higher. The New York Times pioneered this yardstick. States currently on the list include South Carolina, New York, Georgia, Virginia, and North Dakota. The very good news is that this list at one point recently included more than half the states.
Another note on confirmed cases is that they are undercounted. People get the disease, have symptoms, but are never tested. Others never show symptoms at all.
The spread in confirmed cases will likely be controlled more by the rollout of the vaccine than any other factor. As of today, there is a great reason for pessimism. Vaccine doses available have moved toward zero in a number of states.