Oct 14, 2021 - Health

New COVID cases down, but the West is at risk

Change in COVID-19 cases per 100k people in the last two weeks
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

For the first time since early August, the U.S. is averaging fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Why it matters: This U.S. has blown opportunities like this before, but the prospect of controlling the virus and being able to safely put pandemic life behind us is once again within reach.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is averaging 91,000 new cases per day — a 19% drop over the past two weeks.

  • Deaths are also declining, but more slowly. Average daily deaths are down roughly 2% over the past two weeks.
  • Yes, but: The virus is still killing over 1,900 Americans per day, on average.

Details: Alaska has the biggest outbreak in the U.S., relative to its population, with 113 cases per 100,000 people.

  • The virus' strongest foothold is in the West and upper Midwest. Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all among the 10 states with the most cases per capita.
  • Hawaii and Connecticut are the states with the lowest caseloads, each with an average of just 12 cases per 100,000 people. Another nine states and Washington, D.C., are averaging 20 cases or fewer per 100,000 people.
  • That list includes Alabama, Louisiana and Florida — a significant improvement for a trio of states that saw cases soar during the Delta wave.

What’s next: Areas with relatively high case rates and relatively low vaccination rates will remain at risk for localized outbreaks throughout the winter, and unvaccinated people are at risk of serious illness and death if they contract the virus.

  • Nationwide, however, the U.S. may finally be close to containing the virus, which would save lives and make interventions like mask mandates less necessary.
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