The spread of COVID-19 has slowed across America. Confirmed cases now total 27,150,906 which is about 25% of the world’s number. Fatal cases have hit 465,861, almost 20% of the world’s figure. Even with the slowdown, 600,000 Americans are forecast to die by June. And, with new mutations of the disease from the U.K., Brazil, and South Africa, there is fear the rapid spread could start again.
The spread of the disease around the nation has been uneven. It was the worst in New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston early on. Deaths in New York State are still the highest among all states, even though it took the brunt of the disease in March and April.
After hitting much of the northeast, the diseased moved south and west. Miami cases skyrocketed and Houston and Phoenix were hit hard. Then, the worst of its moved to Los Angeles and the Plains States, mostly North Dakota and South Dakota.
Several places were never terribly affected. The first state on this list is Hawaii. One measure of the disease has been deaths per 100,000 people based on an average of the last seven days. The figure in Hawaii on that basis is .09, the lowest level among states, by far. And, among Hawaii’s counties, one has had no deaths at all.
Kalawao County, Hawaii is the smallest county in the U.S. both based on population and land size. It has 86 people spread over 53 square miles, 41 of which are land. Population density is, therefore, extremely low.
Kalawao County is so small, it does not have its own government. This task is handled by the Hawaii Department of Health. The head of the agency is effectively the county’s “mayor.”
The population has shrunk almost every decade since 1900 when the county had 1,117 residents. Of the current population, 48% are Pacific Islanders. Twenty-five percent are White. Seventeen percent are Asian.
Kalawao County did not have any cases at all until two months ago. According to a Wall Street Journal report in November: “A year ago, health authorities announced the first confirmed U.S. Covid-19 case in Snohomish County, Wash., near Seattle. Less than 11 months later, the virus reached an isolated Hawaiian enclave established more than a century ago for patients with leprosy, now called Hansen’s disease.”
The county will continue to have the benefit of its remoteness. However, the disease is communicable enough that only a few cases could begin the infection of a much larger portion of the residents.