On Christmas Day, 125,903 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States, the lowest single-day total in a month. Now, as 2020 comes to a close, there are signs that the disastrous surge in cases that began in the fall has begun to slow. That fact, coupled with the ongoing distribution of millions of vaccine doses across the country, has given Americans hope that the virus could be brought under control in early 2021.
But if that is to happen, the country has a long way to go. While the Christmas Day total represents a monthly low, it is still many times higher than the daily totals in the early months of the pandemic, and nearly twice the highest daily totals during the summer. On Christmas Eve, 2,790 Americans died as a result of the virus in one day, more than the number killed at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. It is also still too early to know how much the Christmas travel — or the New Year’s celebrations — could affect infection rates.
But for now, the number of new cases reported each day is declining in 42 states. Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. calculated each state’s average of new daily COVID-19 cases for the week ending Dec. 27 and compared it to the average from the previous week to determine the states where the spread of the coronavirus is declining the fastest.
Nationwide, the number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents fell by 9, from 69 per 100,000 in the week ending Dec. 20 to 60 per 100,000 in the week ending Dec. 27. North Dakota, which has had more total reported COVID-19 cases per capita than any other state by a considerable margin, recorded a decline of more than 46 daily cases per 100,000 residents, reducing the state’s seven-day average of daily new cases from fifth highest in the country to 33rd. Other states that had been hot spots, such as Minnesota and Texas, reported substantial declines and moved out of the 10 states with the highest average of new cases.
Of the few states that reported week-over-week increases in the number of new cases, two — New York and California — were among the hardest-hit by the original wave of the pandemic in early March. California reintroduced lockdown measures in December, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said mid-month that the state was on the path to return to lockdown if it continued on its current trajectory.
Several other states also have implemented in recent weeks new health and safety measures designed to curb the spread of the virus. These measures include quarantine requirements for people traveling from certain states as well as dining restrictions. These are the restaurant restrictions in every state.