Special Report

COVID-19: These Are the Most Dangerous Cities in America

The U.S. reported over 64,000 new cases of coronavirus on Feb. 17, bringing the total count to more than 27,400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 470,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise, albeit at a slowing rate. In the past week, there were an average of 27.8 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — a decrease from the week prior, when there were an average of 39 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While new data shows that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is high in almost every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks and superspreader events. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between different neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

The metro areas with the highest incidence of COVID-19 cases are distributed relatively unevenly across the United States. Of the 50 metro areas with the highest case counts per capita, 26 are in the South, 16 are in the Midwest, eight are in the West, and zero are in the Northeast.

The five metro areas with the highest number of coronavirus cases per capita are: Yuma, AZ; Pine Bluff, AR; Lubbock, TX; Laredo, TX; and Bismarck, ND. The incidence of COVID-19 in these metro areas range from 17,398.9 cases per 100,000 to 15,511.7 cases per 100,000. For comparison, there are currently 8,511.6 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

The 50 cities with the highest incidence of COVID-19 have over 12,100 more coronavirus cases per capita than the U.S. as a whole, but cases are growing at a slowing rate. There were an average of 35.5 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the week ending Feb. 17, a decrease from the week prior, when there were an average of 46.3 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. In five of the 50 cities with the highest COVID-19 incidence, new cases are rising at an increasing rate.

To determine the cities with the most COVID-19 cases, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked metro areas based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents as of Feb. 17. To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.

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