On Nov. 9, pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that its vaccine in development was over 90% effective in preventing contraction of COVID-19. While this is promising news, more tests are needed, and the timeline for production, even if the vaccine is indeed proven safe, will mean that it will likely not be widely available before 2021.
This news comes as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has reached its fastest rate of spread since the start of the pandemic. The U.S. has now reported at least 100,000 new cases per day for a week straight, by far the highest during the pandemic’s history. Earlier this week, the nation passed 10 million cumulative infections and 240,000 deaths.
While cases are rising in most parts of the country, the extent of the spread of the novel coronavirus continues to vary considerably from state to state, and from county to county.
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 Nov. 8 and compared it to the previous week to determine the county in each state where the virus is spreading the fastest, adjusted for the population. Every state has at least one county or county equivalent in which cases have been reported at a growing rate. 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.
While all counties on the list are those where the virus is spreading the fastest in their respective states, the virus is spreading much faster in some of them compared to others. Nationwide, the average daily new cases increased by 5.5 per 100,000 in the week ending Nov. 8 compared to the previous week, from an average of 22.3 new daily cases per 100,000 to 27.8 per 100,000.
Counties in seventeen states reported an increase of over 50 average daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the week ending Nov. 8 as compared to the week ending Nov. 1. Meanwhile, in six states, the county with the fastest spread reported a week-over-week increase of 10 or fewer new daily cases, on average. These are the states where the spread of the virus is increasing the fastest.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, some of the worst hotspots are tied to residential facilities such as prisons and assisted living facilities. For instance, Childress County, Texas, which reported by far the largest increase in daily new cases of any county in the country, is home to T.L. Roach State Prison, which has been the site of a major COVID-19 outbreak. There are now close to 700 active infections in the prison, constituting the majority of the county’s total cases.