States across the nation are seeing some of the worst ever infection rates for the novel coronavirus. While not every state in the country has completely reopened, all of them are in some phase of easing social distancing requirements, and it appears to be resulting in a resurgence of the virus, with rural areas being hit particularly hard, as the Washington Post reports.
Initially, the coronavirus hit large cities the hardest, with New York City becoming the epicenter of the disease for a time, not only in the U.S. but in the entire world.
Now, COVID-19 cases appear to be increasing in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, in addition to Puerto Rico.
Each state has recorded its highest-ever seven-day average since tracking of the virus began. In Utah, for instance, a small town in Cache Valley, part of northern Utah, has seen 78 new cases a day for the past week. Many of these are the result of an outbreak at a meat processing plant in the area.
Oregon, too, has seen an increase in cases. While the most populous county in the state remains under lockdown, smaller Lincoln County has begun easing social distancing for several weeks. With fewer than 50,000 people living in the area, there have been 20 new cases a day.
Counties with fewer than 60,000 residents appear to be particularly hard hit by the increasing numbers of cases.
Mississippi and Florida have largely reopened their economies, but as the Post notes, the number of cases in these states are climbing, not leveling out. Meanwhile, in areas that were hit early on and worked to implement social distancing measures quickly, the number of cases appears to have leveled out.Experts worry that with the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the number of infected people will begin to increase as well. While many of the demonstrations against police brutality have taken place in large cities, many smaller areas have seen protests as well.
The concern is that smaller cities are less able to deal with a large outbreak of a disease than a larger community is. An outbreak in small, rural towns could overwhelm local health care resources.
In the United States, there have been over 1.95 million confirmed cases of the disease, with more than 109,000 people dead. Globally, the disease has killed more than 400,000.