Special Report

States With the Highest Number of COVID-19 Cases

Detailed Findings

The states testing larger shares of their populations are reporting higher confirmed cases per resident. Eight of the 10 states with the most COVID-19 cases are testing at higher rates than the U.S. average of 8.6 tests per 1,000 people. North Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii are notable exceptions as states with both low COVID-19 cases per capita and relatively high testing rates of 13.7, 11.0, and 13.3 per 1,000 residents.

Population density appears to be a major factor in the spread of the virus. Eight of the nation’s most crowded states, including New Jersey with the nation-leading density of 1,021 people per square mile, are among the 10 states with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases. The states with the lowest cases per capita tend to be more sparsely populated.

Social distancing is considered the best available means to slow the spread of a disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from one another, not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places.

In the study, “Social Distancing to Slow the U.S. COVID-19 Epidemic: an Interrupted Time-Series Analysis,” a preprint of non-peer reviewed study published by Harvard infectious disease experts on April 8, statewide social distancing measures were associated with a decrease in U.S. COVID-19 epidemic growth.

“Based on the size of the epidemic at the time of implementation in each state, social distancing measures were associated with a decrease of 3,090 cases at 7 days, and 68,255 cases at 14 days, after implementation.”


To determine the states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data compiled and released by the New York Times on April 14 on total confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths as of April 14, 2020 for all 50 states.

To compare states, we calculated the confirmed case and death counts for every 100,000 state residents using one-year data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.

Data on the expected peak use of resources are based on projections for the need for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington in Seattle. ICU beds are included in the count of hospital beds.

The percentage of each MSA’s population aged 65 and over came from The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Testing data was obtained from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run repository of data related to the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak.