It has been about two months since stay-at-home orders began to expire and states began the gradual reopening of their economies. Reports of surges of new coronavirus cases in several states that opened early soon followed. Some states are even reporting the highest ever levels of new daily COVID-19 cases.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on COVID-19 confirmed cases since May 14, by which point many states had already entered phase 1 of reopening. There are 18 states where the number of new confirmed cases has at least doubled over the last month.
Health officials are warning that people are not wearing masks when outside and not staying at least 6 feet away from other people.
Differences in how severe early outbreaks were might explain how the relaxation of restrictions impacted the spread of the coronavirus, according to Dr. Mark Siedner, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. People in places that reported outbreaks early in the pandemic appear to be practicing the most caution now, while the opposite is true in places that were not overwhelmed by outbreak.
Until the end of May, there was a strong downward trend in new cases across the country, according to Siedner. Then, states started opening up and the numbers of new cases began spiking, he noted. In some states, they even quadrupled. “What we found is that states that never had it really bad like New York are doing worse now,” Siedner said.
For example, in Arkansas, which until May 12 was the state with the 10th lowest number of COVID-19 cases per capita, there was a surge of 268% in the total number of coronavirus cases between May 14 and June 22, the second largest increase in cumulative cases of any state in the country.
As of June 22, nearly 2.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported across the country. The U.S. has about 700 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, yet in four states that share is more than twice as high — these are the states with the highest number of coronavirus cases per capita.
To determine the states where the total number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled in the last month — approximately since states began loosening restrictions on businesses and social gatherings — 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on COVID-19 confirmed cases since May 14, two weeks after many states had entered phase 1 of reopening. Two weeks is considered a key measure of community spread as it is the upper limit of the incubation period for the virus.
Data on the total number of coronavirus cases and related deaths came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as from state and local health departments. The number of COVID-19 tests every state has conducted as of June 22 also came from state and local health departments. We calculated the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths for every 100,000 people using one-year population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.