Nearly 900,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Friday afternoon April 24, by far the most of any country.
Within the United States, every state is facing its own outbreak. New York has by far the most cases and the highest incidence of the disease. Within the state, New York City has by far the most infections, but the rise of new cases in the city has started to slow, according to recent data.
The vast majority of counties that had confirmed COVID-19 cases seven days ago have far more today. In every state, there is one county where cases have grown the fastest in the past week.
The speed of the virus as it spreads to communities across the United States is likely to be closely related to how well residents practice social distancing. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Mark Seidner, associate professor of infectious diseases at Harvard University and clinician at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained that with no vaccine and no effective treatment options, “social distancing is the only intervention we have currently to stop the epidemic.”
Studies have shown statewide social distancing measures to be associated with a decrease in U.S. COVID-19 growth. Many of the hotspots that have emerged, and a significant number of states where cases are growing the fastest, are places that have not implemented social distancing policies. Other recent studies have shown population mobility to be negatively correlated with the spread of COVID-19 on the county level. These are the states where the virus is spreading the fastest right now.
According to Seidner, social distancing measures and testing heavily depend on one another. “Social distancing relies on testing to be effective because if you don’t know the rate at which the epidemic is growing or hopefully slowing, [then] you don’t know when to relax it [and] you don’t know when to institute it.”
Testing data for counties is not published widely enough to include in this list, but it is likely that counties reporting more COVID-19 cases are also testing more of their populations. Testing statistics published by state health departments shows that the states testing larger shares of their populations are reporting higher confirmed cases per resident. All five of the states with the most COVID-19 cases per capita have testing rates considerably higher than the nationwide average of 989 tests per 100,000 people. These are the states with the highest number of COVID cases.
To identify the county in every state where COVID-19 cases are growing the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths for the seven days through April 22 from state and local health departments. Counties were ranked on the percentage change in total cases from April 15 to total cases on April 22. Only counties with at least 10 cases as of April 15, 2020 were considered.
We calculated the percentage of workers employed in high-risk industries using 2018 annual employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Identification of high-risk industries came from the March 2020 paper “COVID-19: A Fiscal Stimulus Plan” published by Moody’s Analytics, an economics research firm. Each county’s total population came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.
Correction: Due to a processing error in a previous version of this article, the confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in each state listed in parentheses were attributed to the wrong week’s period. State data for COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for Apr. 22nd parenthetical data should have been listed for Apr. 15th data and vice versa. This error has been corrected.
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