Where are new COVID-19 cases growing most rapidly?

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading fast in the U.S., mostly around urban centers. There are now confirmed cases in all 50 states, but some places are reporting higher infection rates than others. That may be because the virus is spreading faster in those locations, but it can also be because those places are performing more tests. In the case of New York City, it’s both. 

New York is a hotspot

As of June 7, there were more than 378,000 confirmed cases in New York state, about 211,700 of which were found in New York City. The NYC metro area now accounts for 10.9% of all diagnoses in the U.S., and about 19.3% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19. White House officials recommend that anyone leaving NYC should self-isolate for 14 days and check for symptoms—which include a dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath. 

The suburb of New Rochelle also saw an early cluster of cases, but new cases are beginning to slow down, thanks to quarantining and social distancing.

New Jersey and Louisiana also have large numbers

The New York Times has a regularly-updated map showing COVID-19 hotspots across the country, with New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, and Florida showing the highest number of cases. Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Vermont currently have the lowest numbers, but that may change as more tests become available.

After the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations in February 2020, the state of Louisiana had become the fastest-growing coronavirus hotspot in the world, as of March 23. On May 3, Louisiana, the 25th-most populated state, was No. 10 in the country in confirmed coronavirus cases. In mid-April, a breakout at a pork-processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota led to the biggest coronavirus hotspot in the U.S., as a cluster of 644 people got sick. The number of positive tests in the state went from 180 to more than 1,100 in a matter of days.

On May 18, it was reported that by CNN that the Navajo Nation—which includes parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico—has the highest per-capita infection rate of anywhere in the U.S. The Navajo Nation has 2,304.41 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, while New York, the previous leader, has 1,806 cases per 100,000 people. As of May 18, 140 people in the Navajo Nation had died from the coronavirus.

Rural areas and quiet neighborhoods might not be much safer

While some people are fleeing to remote, rural areas to escape outbreaks in crowded cities, this may not be a wise idea in the long run. It puts extra strain on rural healthcare providers, and it risks spreading undiagnosed infections to new locations. And busy cities are not necessarily more dangerous than quiet neighborhoods, as proven by a wealthy Connecticut suburb where a single party became a “super spreader” during the early days of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 hotspots are caused by a number of factors including inadequate public safety measures and lack of testing, not just a crowded urban environment.

Sources: NBC, CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Vice, New Yorker

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