These states are on the cusp of another COVID-19 surge

Now is not the time to let our guards down.

In recent weeks, new cases have plateaued and are beginning to trend upward again in many states.

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We are now more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, which officially began on March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared the viral outbreak a global event. It’s also been well over a year since the WHO announced on January 5, 2020 that there was a mysterious virus emerging in Wuhan, China. Since then, more than half a million Americans have died from the virus. Although we understand far more about SARS-CoV-2 now, there’s still a lot left for us to figure out.

Though a fair amount of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue and a handful of vaccines to prevent the infection are in use, it’s still crucial that we maintain our awareness of the severity of this crisis. Here’s a quick overview of the essential stats and figures:

Current US vaccination numbers

The daily average number of vaccine doses has accelerated to 2.5 million per day over the last week. As of Sunday, 25 percent of the US population has received at least one dose, up from 21 percent a week earlier, and 14 percent have gotten both vaccine doses (for the two-dose regimens) or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a three-point increase from last week. All told, almost 83 million Americans have received one dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and almost 45 million have received two such doses or the single Johnson & Johnson dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These are the top five states for percentage of population with at least one dose:

  1. New Mexico at 33.3 percent
  2. Alaska at 31.5 percent
  3. South Dakota at 30.4 percent
  4. Connecticut at 30.3 percent
  5. Maine at 29.7 percent

Every state has passed or is fast approaching the 10 percent threshold for full vaccination, with New Mexico leading the way at 20.3 percent and Utah bringing up the rear at 9.6 percent.

[Related: Moderna is now testing its COVID-19 vaccine on kids. Here’s everything you need to know.]

Latest US case counts

The United States has now reported more than 29.8 million cases in total, and 55,621 were reported just in the last day. We’re currently plateauing after a marked decline from our third—and by far largest—national peak so far. For the past nine weeks, the country has seen a steady decline in cases. While that’s a wholly positive sign, the variants that are now circulating across the country have public health experts concerned these new strains could undo the work that’s been done to bring down case counts.

The downturn has also lost some of its momentum in the past five weeks, and several states are reporting higher case numbers that may develop into a national resurgence. It’s possible that the apparent fall in case numbers is partially due to plummeting testing rates nationwide, making case counts artificially low as less people get tested for the virus. For these reasons, it’s crucial that we maintain the precautions that produced this decline— namely social distancing and mask wearing, along with getting vaccinated when you can.

Case counts around the world

Going by total case counts, the current top 10 countries for COVID-19 are:

  1. US
  2. Brazil
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. UK
  6. France 
  7. Italy
  8. Spain 
  9. Turkey 
  10. Germany

But what these countries generally have in common is large populations. The list of total cases per 100,000 people tells a very different story (not counting countries with fewer than 100,000 people): 

  1. Montenegro
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Slovenia
  4. Luxembourg
  5. Israel
  6. US
  7. Bahrain
  8. Panama
  9. Aruba
  10. Serbia

The US is the only country on both lists, which is a testament to how poorly we’ve handled the pandemic, especially early on. Every other nation with a lot of case counts generally has it by virtue of having a large population.

Spots to keep an eye on

Over the past four months, most US states experienced their largest wave of cases since the pandemic began a year ago. The good news is that every state seems to have surmounted the wave and new cases have been generally on the decline nationwide for the past two months. However, in recent weeks, new cases have plateaued and are beginning to trend upward again in these states:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Current hospitalization rates and death tolls 

At least 542,587 Americans have now died from COVID-19. 

In the last week, there has been an average of 55,621 cases per day, which is an 8 percent decrease compared to the average cases per day two weeks ago. Deaths are also down 35 percent in the same period.

Even though cases have been on the decline for several weeks, the number of cases remains higher than at any other point in the past year and numbers are climbing again in several states. While vaccines offer a light at the end of the tunnel, COVID-19 is essentially everywhere at this point and the effect of new variants remains to be seen. It’s just as important now as it was at the start of the pandemic to remain vigilant.