May 13, 2020 - Health

High-risk states are seeing fewer new coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The first stages of reopening haven’t produced a surge in coronavirus cases in most states — at least, not yet.

Yes, but: The reopening process is still in its early stages, so a second wave of infections still remains distinctly possible.

Between the lines: Our chart compares each state's seven-day average of new cases from Monday, and the seven-day average from a week prior, May 4.

  • Comparing the averages of two weeks helps smooth out a lot of the noise in how states sometimes inconsistently conduct and report tests.
  • The latest average captures the first full week in which some states began to ease some of their lockdown measures.

Some of the states that skeptics were most worried about, including Florida and Georgia, haven’t seen the rise in total cases that some experts feared.

  • Florida’s new cases have actually declined by 14% compared to the previous week, and Georgia’s fell by 12%.
  • Nevada leads the pack with a 44% reduction, while several hard-hit states that embraced aggressive lockdowns to help contain early outbreaks — Michigan, New York and New Jersey — all saw reductions of at least 30%.

The other side: Cases are still increasing in other parts of the country. The most worrisome is South Dakota, which saw a startling 123% increase, likely the result of outbreaks in the meat processing industry.

  • Total cases are an imperfect measure, in isolation, of an outbreak’s severity, because that count is limited by the amount of testing in each state, as well as differences in reporting.
  • But they're still an important part of the puzzle. Federal guidelines call for a steady decline in new cases for any reopening process to proceed.

The bottom line: None of this means any state is in the clear — as more businesses open and more people venture back out into the world, the risk of a second wave grows. But it’s an encouraging early sign.

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