Jun 18, 2020 - Health

Oklahoma among the states with highest coronavirus case growth

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Coronavirus cases are quickly spreading in Arizona, a handful of southern and western states and, ominously, Oklahoma — the planned site of President Trump's controversial rally this weekend.

Why it matters: Once community spread takes off, cases can begin to increase exponentially.

The big picture: “We’re at a point where there are warning signs going off, and people need to take steps to help control it," said Chris Meekins, a health policy research analyst at the investment bank Raymond James.

By the numbers: Oklahoma has seen a 91% jump in its coronavirus cases over the past week, and new cases are up 53% in Arizona.

Between the lines: Each week, Axios is documenting the change in new cases in each state. We use a seven-day average to minimize inconsistencies in when new cases are reported.

  • Overall, new coronavirus cases are up 11% nationwide over the past week.

New cases alone don't measure the extent of a state's outbreak, but many of these same states also are in worsening shape according to other measures.

  • Arizona, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Florida have seen significant growth in the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive over the last two weeks, according to Nephron Research, indicating that the case growth in these states isn't solely attributable to more testing.
  • Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Alabama have also hit record hospitalizations in the last few days.
  • “For the first time, I would have to say, I’m growing worried about the system,” Donald Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told the Alabama Political Reporter. He said that the Tuscaloosa area had only one ICU bed available Tuesday morning.

What we're watching: “Ultimately, the president doesn’t ask for permission before he” goes places, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said yesterday, per Reuters. “So we found out that president was coming, so we are going to make sure it’s the best and as safe as possible.”

The bottom line: “People are going to want to react to really bad numbers," Harvard's Ashish Jha said. But "if you don’t slow the virus down, it'll keep going up, and exponential growth is a bad thing. Because it's building on itself.”

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