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Tracking how COVID-19 spread in every state

  • Tracking how COVID-19 spread in every state

    The coronavirus tends to spread the same way—as a pathogen transmitted from person-to-person, it is a scientific and medical phenomenon that should be impervious to geography—right?

    Yes and no. While the mode of transmission remains the same when it comes down to individual humans, the way this has played out across the United States has been different, depending on the culture, geography, and demographics of each state.

    One of the most important factors in the transmission rates of COVID-19 has been the practice of mandated social distancing rules, and of populations’ willingness to abide by them. In states that put lockdowns in place early, the virus showed a decisive decline. Among states that have started to reopen, some are seeing significant upticks in cases, particularly among residents in Southern and Western states who may be more averse to wearing a government-mandated mask.

    Spring break also played a role in how COVID-19 spread in various states. Some states with large populations of college students, like Iowa, saw numbers increase as students left and returned from spring break. Others that are popular spring break destinations, like Florida, reported large numbers of cases after spring breakers from states that already had virus cases flooded its beaches to mingle.

    Still other states have cultures and communities that made themselves uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 spread. Among these, in particular, were states with Native American reservations, where intergenerational households are more common than they are in the rest of the United States, and younger household members who may have been asymptomatic passed the virus on to older members.

    To examine how COVID-19 has spread in every state, 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. Stacker visualized how cases and deaths in every state have progressed for three months since the beginning of March when most states began reporting COVID-19 data. Supporting data pulled from the report includes insights on when each state reported its first cases and deaths; when each state reached 1,000 cases and deaths, if applicable; and the weeks with the highest new case and death rate so far for each state.

    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

    - First COVID-19 records: March 13 (first case), March 26 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: April 1 (cases)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 11 to June 17 (cases), May 7 to May 13 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 32,064
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 891

    Alabama was one of the first states to reopen after a near-total lockdown in all 50 states in March. Alabama began reopening in early May, and a month later had triple the reported daily cases it did a day after emerging from lockdown.

  • Alaska

    - First COVID-19 records: March 13 (first case), March 25 (first death)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 11 to June 17 (cases), April 2 to April 8 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 792
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 12

    Alaska still has one of the lowest COVID-19 cases per capita in the country, but all is not entirely well in the country’s northernmost state. Alaska has the second-highest transmission rate in the country, which has been rising ever since the state began easing restrictions on movement.

     

  • Arizona

    - First COVID-19 records: March 4 (first case), March 21 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 30 (cases), June 5 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 18 to June 24 (cases), June 18 to June 24 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 59,974
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 1,463

    Arizona is the “new national hotspot” for COVID-19, according to some officials, and an end of lockdown is to blame, according to health officials. Some blame the lack of guidance on how residents could keep themselves safe after the state lifted its lockdown just after Memorial Day.

     

  • Arkansas

    - First COVID-19 records: March 12 (first case), March 25 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: April 8 (cases)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 18 to June 24 (cases), June 18 to June 24 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 17,375
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 240

    Case numbers in Arkansas have not been helped by some of the state’s policies, according to some health experts. Prison workers, for one, were encouraged to come to work if they had tested positive for COVID-19 but weren’t exhibiting symptoms due to what the state called a critical shortage of workers. The state’s prisons have been devastated by the virus.

     

  • California

    - First COVID-19 records: March 4 (first case), March 12 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 20 (cases), April 18 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 18 to June 24 (cases), April 23 to April 29 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 190,222
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 5,632

    The virus spread quickly throughout California in March, but slowed once the state put restrictions in place. With many businesses reopening, the state is concerned by a specific issue among Californians—many in the state are revolting against wearing a mask, even as numbers begin to climb again, which many health officials say will thwart efforts to keep transmission rates low.

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  • Colorado

    - First COVID-19 records: March 6 (first case), March 14 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 26 (cases), May 13 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: April 23 to April 29 (cases), April 23 to April 29 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 30,893
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 1,665

    Tourism is a major industry for Colorado, and as lockdown begins to ease and a slow spike in cases is being detected in the state, the tourism industry is trying to reduce the number of tourists who might spread the virus. The tourism board is emphasizing how many of its attractions are nature-oriented and in the outdoors, which, experts agree, lowers the risk of transmission.

     

  • Connecticut

    - First COVID-19 records: March 8 (first case), March 19 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 26 (cases), April 17 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: April 16 to April 22 (cases), April 16 to April 22 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 45,913
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 4,287

    Connecticut has the ignominious distinction of having held a super-spreader event for COVID-19 early on. An upscale party in the suburb of Westport for 50 people in March included guests who later traveled to other parts of the country and the world, unknowingly taking the virus with them as they went.

     

  • Delaware

    - First COVID-19 records: March 11 (first case), March 26 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: April 9 (cases)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: April 23 to April 29 (cases), May 14 to May 20 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 10,889
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 505

    Like other parts of the country, COVID-19’s spread disproportionately harmed African Americans in this state. But the spread was concentrated geographically in the southern half of the state, due in part to the fact that it contains more elderly residents in nursing homes, which have been vectors for the lethal spread of the virus.

     

  • Florida

    - First COVID-19 records: March 4 (first case), March 11 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 23 (cases), April 24 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 18 to June 24 (cases), April 30 to May 6 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 109,014
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 3,377

    While much of the country was hunkering down in mid-March, Florida made the decision not to close its beaches to the scads of spring breakers who routinely descend on the state each March. That decision proved costly. Beach dance parties and crowded bars lured people from around the state, and from around the country and the world who brought the virus with them, gave it to others at close proximity, and then took it with them when they returned home.

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  • Georgia

    - First COVID-19 records: March 4 (first case), March 13 (first death)
    - Date the state passed 1,000: March 24 (cases), April 28 (deaths)
    - Weeks with the sharpest increases: June 18 to June 24 (cases), April 16 to April 22 (deaths)
    - Total case count as of June 24: 69,381
    - Total death toll as of June 24: 2,698

    COVID-19 has hit nursing homes in Georgia especially hard. Nursing home cases are responsible for up to 40% of the cases in some counties, and nursing home deaths have been responsible for almost half the deaths in the state.

     

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