The United States has had over 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases across the country. While the virus has spread to every corner of the country, infections have largely been concentrated in a few dozen population centers. The U.S. has 467 confirmed infections per 100,000 residents, yet the infection rate in dozens of major metro areas is far higher.
Using COVID-19 data from state and local health departments, along with population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed confirmed COVID-19 cases in nearly 400 U.S. metro areas to identify the 50 cities with the most confirmed cases, adjusted for the population.
Because the coronavirus spreads much faster when people are in close contact, social distancing is “the only intervention we have currently to stop the epidemic,” according to Mark Siedner, associate professor of infectious diseases at Harvard University. Of the 50 cities with the most COVID-19 cases per capita, 40 have a population density greater than the nationwide population density of 91.4 people per square mile. As of May, states have been in very different stages of easing measures and opening their economies — some have allowed many businesses to reopen (albeit with restrictions), while others have kept stay-at-home measures in place for now. These are every state’s rules for staying at home and social distancing.
States are beginning to see the results of their social distancing efforts. A handful have averaged fewer than one new case per 100,000 residents per day throughout the week of 12-18 May. Others are still struggling, averaging over a dozen cases per 100,000 residents per day during that same time period. These are the states where the virus is growing the fastest.