Jun 23, 2021 - Health

The pandemic is a much bigger deal in some states than others

States with the best and worst COVID-19 case rates
Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has essentially ended in some states, while others are still experiencing outbreaks.

Why it matters: The wide variation in states' vaccination rates means that stark disparities in case rates could be America's norm for awhile.

State of play: Some states saw an average of seven or fewer new cases per 100,000 people over the last week. On the other end of the spectrum, Missouri had 76 new cases per 100,000 people.

  • For context, at its peak, South Dakota saw more than 160 new cases per 100,000 people a day. It's now logging 4 new cases per capita over the last week.
  • Hospitalizations are also rising in some of these states with relatively large caseloads, including Missouri, Arkansas and Utah, Bloomberg reports.

Driving the news: The White House said yesterday that the U.S. will likely fall short of President Biden's goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population with at least one dose by July 4.

  • The U.S. is still reporting an average of more than 200 deaths every day — deaths that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky yesterday called "entirely preventable."

Between the lines: There's no magic number that signifies a pandemic is contained. And even in places where caseloads are relatively high, that may not translate into a large spike in fatalities if most vulnerable people in those places are vaccinated.

  • Some experts told The Atlantic in February that 100 or fewer deaths per day is a good signifier that the emergency phase of the pandemic has ended.

The bottom line: No one thinks COVID is completely going away. But the goal is to make its presence as small as possible, and some states still have plenty of room for improvement.

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