Nationwide, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases has declined significantly in recent weeks. While more than 50,000 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus each day from July 7 to Aug. 2, there has not been a single day with as many confirmed cases from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25. Still, the number of Americans testing positive for COVID-19 each day in August is still above the daily figure during the earlier months of the pandemic. And though cases have been declining nationwide, each state has at least one county in which cases have been growing.
Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed the average of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending Aug. 24 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, adjusted for the population. 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. Due to a change in the state’s reporting practices, Massachusetts was not included in our analysis.
Though every state, for which there was sufficient data, had at least one county or county equivalent with a week-over-week increase in COVID-19 cases, the virus is spreading much faster in some of these counties compared to others. For instance, in four states, the county where COVID-19 is growing fastest recorded an increase of over 50 new cases per 100,000 residents in the week ending Aug. 24 as compared to the week ending Aug. 17. All four of these states are in the South. Each of these counties has a relatively small population, so an outbreak of a few dozen cases has a significant effect on the area’s cases per 100,000 rate.
Conversely, in 10 states no county recorded an increase of more than 3 cases per 100,000 residents week over week. Three of these states are in the West, and the other seven are in the Northeast. Unsurprisingly, each of these states had among the lowest average daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the last week. These are the states where the spread of the virus is slowing, and where it is getting worse.
As the number of new nationwide COVID-19 cases has declined, experts and political leaders have tried to find ways to ensure new cases continue declining, even as businesses and services reopen. One of the largest areas of concern is school reopenings. State educational agencies have implemented different precautions as students return for the fall 2020 semester, including social distancing measures, temperature screenings, and hybrid models of online and in-person learning. This is how schools are reopening in every state.