Citing a 33% reduction in the average number of new daily cases, Vice President Mike Pence announced in a June 16 Wall Street Journal op-ed: “we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.” The vice president’s piece was published on the same day that Texas reported an all-time high in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and only days after a number of other states, including Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee, also reported highs in hospitalizations.
After months of social distancing measures, many Americans are eager for the economy to open and to be able to resume their normal life. Still, in nearly every state — even in those where the total number of known cases per capita has remained low — there are local hotspots where the total number of diagnosed cases per capita is approaching or well exceeding the national figure.
Using COVID-19 data from state and local health departments, and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed COVID-19 cases in over 3,000 U.S. county and county equivalents to determine the county in each state with the most cumulative confirmed cases, adjusted to the population. In the counties on this list, the prevalence of the disease ranges from 73 cases per 100,000 people to the equivalent of more than 15,000 cases per 100,000, as of June 15. For context, there have been 646 cases of the coronavirus for every 100,000 people nationwide.
With no vaccine, the most effective virus containment tool we have at our disposal is social distancing. It is therefore no coincidence that many of the counties on this list are home to places where social distancing is difficult, if not impossible. These places include prisons — such as those in Colorado’s Logan County and Tennessee’s Trousdale County — and industrial plants, such as the JBS meat plants in Nobles County, Minnesota and Moore County, Texas. Here are every state’s rules for reopening and social distancing.
Another common factor many of the counties on this list share is that they are home to major urban centers. Major cities like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia are all contained in the counties on this list. It is not likely a coincidence that each of these cities also ranks as the largest in its state, as COVID-19 has so far hit major cities at much higher rates than the average rate nationwide.