Special Report

States With the Most Cases of COVID-19

As the delta variant spreads, new daily cases of COVID-19 are on the rise once again in much of the United States.

Since the first known case was identified in the U.S. on Jan. 21, 2020, there have been a total of 38,158,500 reported cases of COVID-19 nationwide — or 11,663 per 100,000 people. Of course, infections are not evenly spread across the country, and some states have far higher infections rates per capita than others. The number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people ranges from as low as 3,919 to as high as 15,265, depending on the state.

Though the first case of the novel coronavirus in the United States was on the West Coast, the early epicenter of the outbreak was on the other side of the country, in New York City. In the months since, the parts of the country hit hardest by the virus shifted to the Southeast, the Midwest, and California.

Currently, the states with the lowest number of infections per capita tend to be concentrated in the West, while the states with the highest population-adjusted infection rates are most likely to be located in the South.

The severity of a COVID-19 outbreak across a given state is subject to a wide range of factors. Still, states that had a hands-off approach in the early days of the pandemic are more likely to be worse off today than those that adopted strict measures to control the spread. Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming were the only states that did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order in March or early April — and of those states, all eight currently have a higher infection rate than the U.S. as a whole.

All COVID-19 data used in this story are current as of August 27, 2021. It is important to note that average new daily cases may include older diagnoses that were previously uncounted.