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Where every state stands on flattening the curve

  • Where every state stands on flattening the curve

    Completely containing the coronavirus is an impossible mission. The next best thing we can do is “flatten the curve.” You’ve probably heard that phrase regularly since the pandemic began, but what does it really mean? And more importantly, are states’ efforts to flatten the curve paying off?

    Flattening the curve is an epidemiological concept that focuses on slowing the spread of a particular virus to minimize the amount of people who need treatment at the same time. Steep curves, which tend to occur when precautions are not taken, indicate a rapid rise in infections and make it more likely that the health care system is overwhelmed—perhaps to the point of leaving patients untreated. Social distancing, mask-wearing, and avoiding large gatherings help to reduce the curve. The same number of people may still get sick, but those infections are spread out over a longer period of time, allowing hospitals to keep up with cases.

    Every state has taken different measures to keep the coronavirus under control. Some, like South Dakota and Iowa, have been relatively hands-off, even avoiding stay-at-home orders. Others, like New York and California, issued a series of strict precautions early on and have only recently started reopening businesses that were shut down. Most recently, the entire Tri-State Area—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut—on June 24 put into effect a required two-week quarantine period for anyone traveling to the region from states with COVID-19 cases exceeding a certain level. As of press time, residents traveling to the Tri-State Area from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas are subject to enforced, 14-day quarantine.

    To examine how every state stands on flattening its curve of COVID-19 cases, Stacker used current and historical data from the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer effort based at The Atlantic which compiles and standardizes daily testing and outcomes data from state health departments. We looked at the data and visualized how cases and deaths in every state have progressed over the past month. As supporting data, we’ve pulled out insights on how many new cases, deaths, and tests have occurred in each state over the past week (June 18 to June 24), as well as the weeks with the highest new case and death rates so far for each state. At least 16 states had record-breaking rates of new cases during the week of June 18 to June 24.

    We also calculated the test-positivity ratio, or the share of tests that have returned positive results, for the week of June 18 to June 24. However, it is important to note that some states, such as Florida, may be inflating their test counts by conflating the results of viral and antibody tests and/or reporting the number of specimens tested rather than the number of people tested, so test-positivity ratios should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Wondering how your state is doing with its efforts to flatten the curve? Click through to see the latest statistics from all 50 states, plus Washington D.C.

    Editor's note: Betsy Ladyzhets, a research associate at Stacker who worked on this story, volunteers for the COVID-19 Tracking Project.

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  • Alabama

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 14.0 per 100,000 people (-1.7 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.3 per 100,000 people (+0.2 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 141.1 per 100,000 people (+30.5 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 10.82% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 11 to June 17 (15.6 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: May 7 to May 13 (0.3 new deaths per day)

    Restaurants, salons, and fitness centers in Alabama were allowed to reopen with limited operations on May 11. The state had a stay-at-home mandate in effect until April 30, which was then loosened by Gov. Kay Ivey to a “Safer at Home” order that encourages Alabamans to stay home and follow sanitation guidelines until July 3.

  • Alaska

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 1.9 per 100,000 people (-0.1 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.0 per 100,000 people (0.0 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 355.7 per 100,000 people (+162.4 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 0.58% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 11 to June 17 (2.0 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 2 to April 8 (0.1 new deaths per day)

    To help prevent new coronavirus infections, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced new requirements for arrivals to Alaska in early June. Health Mandate 10 requires travelers to Alaska, as well as residents returning home, to self-quarantine for two weeks while tracking potential symptoms of COVID-19, unless they can provide negative test results for the disease, according to Elizabeth Roman and Jes Stugelmayer of KTVA.

  • Arizona

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 39.2 per 100,000 people (+16.4 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.5 per 100,000 people (+0.2 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 170.7 per 100,000 people (+33.9 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 23.20% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 18 to June 24 (39.2 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: June 18 to June 24 (0.5 new deaths per day)

    Arizona’s daily number of coronavirus cases hit a record high on June 16. The state’s stay-at-home order ended on May 15, but the infection rates have sparked concern from doctors, who sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey in mid-June calling on him to mandate mask-wearing, according to Soo Kin of Newsweek.

  • Arkansas

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 18.0 per 100,000 people (+2.5 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.2 per 100,000 people (+0.1 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 244.4 per 100,000 people (+31.9 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 6.50% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 18 to June 24 (18.0 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: June 18 to June 24 (0.2 new deaths per day)

    Arkansas has resisted some of the coronavirus prevention efforts that have been used in other states. Gov. Asa Hutchinson never implemented a stay-at-home order. However, he did close on-site learning at schools, ordered bars and restaurants to shut down, and banned gatherings larger than 10 people.

  • California

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 12.1 per 100,000 people (+4.5 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.2 per 100,000 people (0.0 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 217.1 per 100,000 people (+50.3 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 5.55% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 18 to June 24 (12.1 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 23 to April 29 (0.2 new deaths per day)

    California made headlines in mid-March when it became the first state to require residents to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak. The state began relaxing its prevention efforts in May, first with the reopening of restaurants and shopping centers in certain counties, followed by resumed activities at religious centers and in-store retail shopping.

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  • Colorado

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 3.7 per 100,000 people (+0.9 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.1 per 100,000 people (0.0 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 88.2 per 100,000 people (+9.3 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 4.96% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: April 23 to April 29 (11.1 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 23 to April 29 (0.7 new deaths per day)

    After being in a state of emergency from mid-March, Colorado has transitioned to its Level 2 reopening phase, “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.” It recommends that people stay at home, and practice social distancing when spending time in nature.

  • Connecticut

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 1.9 per 100,000 people (-2.4 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.3 per 100,000 people (-0.1 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 137.6 per 100,000 people (-65.6 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 0.92% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: April 16 to April 22 (30.8 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 16 to April 22 (2.7 new deaths per day)

    Connecticut moved into the second phase of its reopening on June 16. After months of being closed, restaurants could begin offering indoor dining at 50% capacity, while libraries, entertainment events, social clubs, gyms, and other facilities could also reopen with limited operations. Customers are still required to wear a face mask or covering.

  • Delaware

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 6.7 per 100,000 people (+0.9 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.0 per 100,000 people (-0.1 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 174.7 per 100,000 people (-48.6 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 4.06% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: April 23 to April 29 (21.9 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: May 14 to May 20 (0.9 new deaths per day)

    Delaware was quick to move into a state of emergency on March 12 when the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. The state has closed all public schools for the current academic year. Most businesses were allowed to reopen on June 1.

  • Florida

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 18.2 per 100,000 people (+7.6 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.2 per 100,000 people (+0.0 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 126.6 per 100,000 people (-16.8 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 14.84% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 18 to June 24 (18.2 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 30 to May 6 (0.3 new deaths per day)

    Florida set at least three new daily records for COVID-19 cases in mid-June, according to Greg Allen of NPR. While Gov. Ron DeSantis points to increased testing as the reason for the rising cases, local officials and medical experts say that cases of COVID-19 are rising due to more people getting infected. Businesses in most Florida counties have been allowed to reopen at some capacity since early May.

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  • Georgia

    - Average new cases per day, June 18 to June 24: 13.0 per 100,000 people (+4.6 from previous week)
    - Average new deaths per day, June 18 to June 24: 0.2 per 100,000 people (-0.2 from previous week)
    - Average new tests per day, June 18 to June 24: 128.7 per 100,000 people (+18.4 from previous week)
    - Average positive test ratio, June 18 to June 24: 12.42% (recommended rate: 10%)
    - Week with the most new cases: June 18 to June 24 (13.0 new cases per day)
    - Week with the most new deaths: April 16 to April 22 (0.4 new deaths per day)

    Georgia was one of the first states to move forward with President Trump’s call for economies to reopen, lifting some restrictions at the end of April and beginning of May, according to Alexander Nazaryan of Yahoo News. Gov. Brian Kemp allowed for crowds as large as 50 people (no social distancing required) and in-person dining to move forward with fewer restrictions in a new executive order on June 11.

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