Special Report

US Cities with the Highest COVID-19 Death Rates

COVID-19 claimed its first 100,000 lives in the U.S. at the end of May, four months after the first confirmed case. At the time, some of the states with currently high cases per capita — such as North and South Dakota — were among the states with the fewest reported deaths.  

Seven month after that somber milestone, the death toll in the U.S. has more than tripled to nearly 330,000, and the country’s death per capita figure has steadily increased. Despite the beginning of vaccinations, the coronavirus is still devastating the country — and just as the caseload varies significantly nationwide, so does the COVID-19 death toll

Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the cumulative COVID-19 death per capita figure for every metro area in the country.

About 1.8% of the 18.6 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. have succumbed to the disease. Nationwide, there have been 94 deaths per 100,000 people since the start of the outbreak. In the 50 cities on this list the death rate is at least 136 per 100,000 people.

At the end of December, the cities with the most confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents are largely different from the cities with the most COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. Just seven of the 30 metro areas with the highest cumulative COVID-19 cases per capita are also among the 30 metro areas with the highest cumulative deaths per capita.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, lower-income cities have generally been harder hit by the virus — in both caseload and death rates. Of the 50  metro areas on this list with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate as of Dec. 21,, only 13 have lower poverty rates than the national rate of 12.3%. 

Also since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, preexisting conditions have increased the risk of severe COVID-19 and death. Only 18 of the 50 cities with the highest COVID-19 death rates have a smaller share of the population reporting poor or fair health. 

There are large differences in the current spread of the novel coronavirus from state to state. In two states, there were over 100 average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the week ending Dec. 20. In two other states, there were fewer than 20 average daily new infections per 100,000 in the same week. These are the states where the virus spread is slowing (and where it’s getting worse).

Click here for the cities with the highest COVID-19 death rates