(TheDailyHorn.com) – As states, districts, and territories have reopened after stay-at-home orders, several states have experienced spikes in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Alternatively, other states are either holding relatively steady or seeing a slow but steady decline in cases. We’re looking at the trends and the reopening policies in a few states that are experiencing increases and decreases to see if there might be correlations.
States Where Cases Are Increasing
There may be several measures of how quickly cases are growing in any given location. The measure we’ve chosen to examine is the growth of cases per week versus the total number of cases.
For those states where infection rates are already very high, even marginal percentage upswings in infection rates translate into large daily and weekly increases of COVID-19. Increases by a cases/week basis were seen in the states below during the week ending June 11, 2020 (with new cases/wk increase / total cases to date):
- Michigan (2,941 / 65,627) — 4.48% increase
- Arizona (2,753 / 31,525) — 8.73% increase
- Florida (2,477 / 69,061) — 3.59% increase
- California (1,183 / 143,673) — 0.82% increase
- Texas (1,784 / 83,754) — 2.13% increase
- South Carolina (1,080 / 16,441) — 6.57% increase
- North Carolina (1,066 / 39,735) — 2.68% increase
- Georgia (756 / 52,332) — 1.44% increase
- Puerto Rico (680 / 5,352) — 12.71% increase
- Utah (576 / 13,366) — 4.31% increase
- Arkansas (511 / 10,816) — 4.72% increase
- Washington (505 / 26,172) — 1.93% increase
- Nevada (466 / 10,464) — 4.45% increase
- Iowa (427 /23,039) — 1.85% increase
- Kentucky (372 / 12,128) — 3.07% increase
- Louisiana (349 / 44,585) — 0.78% increase
- Oregon (337 / 5,248) — 6.42% increase
- Alabama (319 / 22,845) — 1.40% increase
- Missouri (246 / 15,924) — 1.54% increase
- New Mexico (222 / 9,368) — 2.37% increase
- Oklahoma (99 / 7,626) — 1.30% increase
- Vermont (86 / 1,095) — 7.85% increase
- Alaska (27 / 666) — 4.05% increase
- Hawaii (21 / 680) — 3.09% increase
Although California’s weekly infection rate only grew by a fraction of a percent, California is currently averaging approximately 2950 new cases per day. It’s currently averaging the highest number of cases per day in the nation.
Arizona’s infection rate grew by about 8.7% even though Florida only grew by about 3.6% with approximately the same number of additional cases per week.
States Where Cases Are Decreasing
By using a similar metric, we’ve chosen to look at the decrease in cases per week versus the total number of cases for any given state. For those states where infection rates are already very high, even a marginal percentage decrease in infection rates translates into a large drop in the overall daily and weekly numbers. Decreases in cases/week were seen in the states below during the week ending June 11, 2020 (with new cases/wk decrease / total cases to date):
- Massachusetts (4,808 / 104,667) — 4.59% decrease
- New York (3,102 / 385,669) — 0.80% decrease
- Illinois (3,057 / 131,731) — 2.32% decrease
- New Jersey (2,162 / 165,816) — 1.30% decrease
- Maryland (2,078 / 60,823) — 3.42% decrease
- Virginia (1,384 / 52,647) — 2.63% decrease
- Wisconsin (891 / 22,049) — 4.04% decrease
- Colorado (833 / 28,632) — 2.91% decrease
- Nebraska (731 / 16,315) — 4.48% decrease
- Pennsylvania (686 / 81,944) — 0.84% decrease
- Indiana (679 / 39,714) — 1.71% decrease
- Ohio (570 / 40,004) — 1.42% decrease
- Connecticut (547 / 44,461) — 1.23% decrease
- Minnesota (388 / 29,347) — 1.32% decrease
- Rhode Island (329 / 15,862) — 2.07% decrease
- Tennessee (309 / 28,766) — 1.07% decrease
- Delaware (272 / 10,106) — 2.69% decrease
- Kansas (178 / 10,984) — 1.62% decrease
- New Hampshire (126 / 5,209) — 2.42% decrease
- Mississippi (117 / 18,483) — 0.63% decrease
- West Virginia (62 / 2,217) — 2.80% decrease
- Maine (62 / 2,667) — 2.32% decrease
- Montana (8 / 563) — 1.42% decrease
New York’s fractional decrease now translates to a large drop in cases per day and per week because of the massive infection rates they experienced early in the pandemic.
Comparison of Two States: Pennsylvania vs. Texas
Both Pennsylvania and Texas have seen approximately 82,000 cases of COVID reported so far. Both states issued stay-at-home orders effective as of April 1 of this year. One main difference is that because of its proximity to New York, Pennsylvania experienced much higher infection rates much sooner.
By April 10, Pennsylvania was already dealing with 19,724 active cases of COVID while Texas was at 10,353, nearly half the amount. Pennsylvania’s cases peaked on May 11 and 21 at approximately 55,500 and 57,000 active cases, respectively. Since May 22, with a few minor exceptions, case numbers have been trending downward. Texas, on the other hand, has experienced a continuous, slow, steady growth of cases and shows no signs of slowing at this time.
Both states shut down at the same time. The state that is now trending lower was much harder hit earlier on with cases.
So what caused the difference in infection rates? The factors that are significantly different for these two states are the timing at which they reopened and how they went about it.
On April 30, the stay-at-home order ended for Texas. Most businesses were allowed to resume operations. Some were required to operate at reduced capacity. While citizens were encouraged to wear masks and continue social distancing, they were also encouraged to return to work and regenerate the economy. The stay-at-home order in Texas was effectively one of the shortest in the nation.
By contrast, after having experienced one of the worst spikes of COVID cases in the nation, Pennsylvania began a carefully planned and staged reopening on May 8, only allowing a few counties to open at a time and making sure benchmarks were reached before allowing further loosening of restrictions. It took until June 5 before all cities and counties were in some phase of reopening, but some restrictions still applied in certain areas.
Viewed from a health/infection standpoint, Pennsylvania’s choices look more optimal. Texas currently has approximately 29,000 active cases of COVID while Pennsylvania has about 20,000.
An Analysis of Who Is Doing Best and Why
Those states that are faring best either had to deal with high virus infection rates early on or tended to have lower population densities and/or more agrarian cultures.
Larger states that have a mixture of population densities and cultures, like New York, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan and Arizona, have faced some mixed results. However, they seem more disadvantaged by their large, densely-populated cities than they can compensate for with rural areas. Even so, we see the biggest case number drops in larger cities once they implement effective social controls (five of the top six states where cases are decreasing, for example).
COVID Rates and Protests?
An intangible factor is how the protests that took place over the last couple of weeks will affect infection rates in all states. Regardless of how carefully staged reopenings were, mass gatherings of the sort seen in cities around the country could reopen the door for skyrocketing infection rates.
Based on transmission and incubation times, we could begin seeing spikes in cases with the next week or two. Nearly every state may have to deal with this potential issue.
We pulled together as a nation. We socially distanced. Many stayed at home while others worked the front lines to make sure that, as a nation, we had medical care, food, essential supplies, and essential services.
America continues to fight against a pathogen at great personal and national cost. Some states are losing a slow battle while others are making hard-won gains against the coronavirus. We’re all still learning how to best deal with this unprecedented virus.
Copyright 2020, TheDailyHorn.com