The first case of the novel coronavirus in the United States was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020 — a healthy 35-year-old nonsmoker who had just returned to Washington state from Wuhan, China. Since then, the United States has become the epicenter of the pandemic, reporting more total cases than any other country. As of 5 p.m. on April 8, 2020, more than 420,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, comprising about 27% of the nearly 1.5 million cases worldwide.
Physical distancing is considered the best available means to, as epidemiologists say, “flatten the curve of the pandemic” — meaning slowing down the spread of a disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from one another, not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places.
The goal is to save lives and keep local health care systems from being overwhelmed, but the outbreak has spread unevenly nationwide, affecting some states much more than others. 24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of cases and death in each state as of April 8, 2020 from The New York Times and adjusted for population to identify the states with the highest coronavirus cases per capita.
New York state has reported more than 140,000 cases, more than triple the state with the second most cases of COVID-19 — New Jersey. There, just over 44,000 cases have been confirmed. The state with the fewest number of coronavirus patients is Alaska, with a total of 211 cases.
The ranking is different when the total number of coronavirus cases is adjusted for the population. For example, Minnesota has the fewest COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people but the 10th highest total of confirmed cases.
There also appears to be a correlation between population density and the number of coronavirus cases. Of the 15 states with the highest density — measured as people per square mile — 10 are also among the states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
While the novel coronavirus outbreak is among the most serious international public health emergencies in recent memory, it may not come close to the devastation wrought by some of history’s worst outbreaks. Here are the worst outbreaks of all time.
To determine the states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, 24/7 Tempo reviewed case and death count cases as of Apr. 7, 2020 from The New York Times. Confirmed case and death counts were adjusted for population using one-year data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. Data on the number of registered nurses came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program for May 2019, and were adjusted for population using one-year 2018 ACS data. Data on the expected peak use of resources are based on projections for the need for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington in Seattle.