States With the Highest Number of COVID-19 Cases

Vaccine distribution is well underway across the United States. Still, the novel coronavirus continues to spread through the population. In the last week alone, there were an average of 134,592 new cases of the virus every day.

Since the first known case was identified in the U.S. on Jan. 21, 2020, there have been a total of 26,239,600 reported cases of COVID-19 nationwide — or 8,020 per 100,000 people. Of course, infections are not evenly spread across the country, and some states have far higher infections rates per capita than others. The number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people ranges from as low as 1,836 to as high as 12,885, depending on the state.

Though the first case of the novel coronavirus in the United States was on the West Coast, the early epicenter of the outbreak was on the other side of the country, in New York City. In the months since, the parts of the country hit hardest by the virus shifted to the Southeast, the Midwest, and California.

Currently, the states with the lowest number of infections per capita tend to be concentrated in the Northeast, while the states with the highest population-adjusted infection rates are most likely to be located in the Midwest.

The severity of a COVID-19 outbreak across a given state is subject to a wide range of factors. Still, states that had a hands-off approach in the early days of the pandemic are more likely to be worse off today than those that adopted strict measures to control the spread. Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming were the only states that did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order in March or early April — and of those states, all seven currently have a higher infection rate than the U.S. as a whole.

All COVID-19 data used in this story are current as of Feb. 3, 2021.

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