How the Worst Week for COVID Compares to Today in Every State

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COVID-19 has killed more than 1 million people in the U.S. since it was first detected in the country in January 2020. Over the time since the Trump Administration declared a national emergency to President Joe Biden declaring in September that the pandemic was over, the U.S. went from almost complete lockdown to no more mask mandates and largely unrestricted travel.

The death toll from COVID-19 has declined dramatically as vaccines have become widely available, but not completely. People are still dying from COVID-19 every day. (These are the greatest public health achievements of the 21st century.)

As of Oct. 5, 2022, an average of 391 people died every day nationwide (seven-day average), according to The New York Times. This is about 10 times less than the average daily deaths at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, the peak of the pandemic in the U.S. in terms of deaths. Almost 100,000 people died in January 2021 alone – about 3,200 deaths a day.

To compare COVID-19 deaths now and at the peak in each state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed local, state, and national data. We attempted to consider only natural peaks as opposed to an apparent peak caused by states adjusting their data and reporting a large number of previously unaccounted-for deaths on one day. We may not have caught all such instances, however. Vaccination data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is current as of Sept. 28. Population data came from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and is not the one used to calculate per capita rates.

The majority of the states that had some of the highest COVID-19 death rates at the peak, have the highest total (cumulative) death rate today. Today, in all states, the average daily deaths over the past seven days is considerably lower than it was at the peak. For example, there were nearly 176 daily deaths in the week of ending Jan. 13, 2021 in Arizona. As of Sept. 29, there were an average of 12 daily deaths. (These are 30 famous people who died from COVID.)

The states with the highest number of average daily deaths in the past seven days (as of Sept. 29 in most states) are not concentrated in any one region. This is unlike in the early days of the pandemic, where New York City, New Jersey, and other Northeastern regions were the worst hit. Today, the average daily deaths largely rises and falls with population. For example, California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania, the fifth most populous states, all have among the current highest average daily deaths.

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