With more than 3,000 reported deaths on Dec. 10, the U.S. daily death toll from COVID-19 has now surpassed the record of 2,700 set in May. Deaths are a lagging indicator in the spread of the coronavirus, occurring several weeks after diagnosis. So with cases of the virus just now reaching new highs — and with some of the busiest travel days of the year approaching — all signs point to daily deaths well exceeding the May record as the nation closes in on the 300,000 death mark.
Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed county-level COVID-19 data. We compared the average of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending Dec. 7 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. All but two states have at least one county or county equivalent in which cases have grown at a faster rate over the past week. 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.
Nationwide, the number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents rose by 5, from roughly 48 per 100,000 in the week ending Nov. 30 to 53 per 100,000 in the week ending Dec. 7. In 47 states there is at least one county reporting a weekly increase of at least 10 cases per 100,000. In eight states, the county with the largest increase in cases reported a weekly surge of more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. These are the states where the virus is still getting worse.
In many counties, the pandemic has stretched already struggling hospitals and health care centers to the limit. In many parts of the country, health care infrastructure is at risk of being overwhelmed as there may be just one hospital to serve over 100,000 residents. These are the counties with the fewest hospitals.