The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the United States appears to have leveled off — there was just one day in July in which there were fewer than 45,000 new confirmed cases of the virus, but there have been six such days in August through the 20th. Though daily new COVID-19 cases are declining nationwide, there are many places across the country where they are still increasing. All but two states have at least one large county in which cases per capita increased last week compared to the week before.
Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed the average of new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending August 17 and compared it to the average of new daily cases from the previous week to determine the county in each state where the virus is spreading the fastest. We excluded counties with populations of fewer than 5,000 people, as well as those with fewer than 20 reported new cases in the past 14 days. Starting Aug. 12, Massachusetts began excluding probable COVID-19 cases and deaths from its official case and death counts. As a result, we did not include the state’s count of average daily new cases over the last week.
The average number of new daily cases per capita nationwide has decreased slightly week-over-week, from 17.3 daily new cases per 100,000 people during the week ending Aug. 10 to 15.4 per 100,000 in the week ending Aug. 17. There were 29 states that recorded week-over-week case declines during that time. Yet there were only two states — New Hampshire and Massachusetts — in which there were no counties that recorded increases in confirmed cases per capita. These are the states where the spread of the virus is slowing, and where it is getting worse.
Some of the counties on this list reported a relatively low average of daily new cases for the week ending Aug. 17, with a dozen reporting fewer than the national average of 15.4 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Yet a number of counties on this list reported many more new daily cases per capita, and three reported over 100 daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the last week. And one, Lafayette County, Florida, reported a staggering 857 cases per 100,000 residents that week alone.
The spike in Lafayette County is directly related to an outbreak at a prison facility in the county. On Aug. 14, the Florida Department of Corrections announced that 639 of the approximately 1,400 inmates at the Mayo Annex Correctional Institution tested positive for COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, many other areas have reported sharp increases in the number of cases due to an outbreak at a contained facility such as a prison or a nursing home, where the virus can spread quickly throughout the population.