The pace at which the COVID-19 pandemic has hit America has slowed. New confirmed cars once rose over 200,000 a day. Yesterday, they reached 28,260,716, but the increase was a moderate 84,288. The U.S. continues to have 25% of the world’s total confirmed case count. Fatal cases in the U.S., which once rose at a pace of 4,000 or more a day, hit 500,833 yesterday, up 2,870. They are 20% of the world’s total.
Experts expect the slowing of cases and deaths to continue. However, scientists and medical experts continue to worry about two things that could cause setbacks. One is that there are several variants of the disease that were not detected in the U.S. until several weeks ago. They may spread faster, or be more deadly than the version of the disease that has been in the U.S. for over a year.
The second anxiety about the possibility of another surge is the slow rate of vaccination. Only about 12% of the adult population in American has received one or more doses. Only about 4% have received the two need to be as protected as a current vaccine can make them.
Public health officials and scientists have several ways to track the spread of the disease. One is raw numbers. The other is cases and deaths per 100,000. The “100,000” tracking lets experts compare the disease on an apples-to-apples basis regardless of the population count.
The New York Times keeps statistics on what it terms “the places hit hardest”. It uses cases per 100,000 over an average of the most recent seven days. The hardest-hit county by the measure is Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska with a rate of 238. That is well ahead of the second-place county by the measure, Scurry, Texas at 200. Alaska uses the “area” and “borough” designations in the place of counties.
The Aleutians West Census Area covers the string of islands at the far west end of Alaska, as they stretch into the Bering sea. They cover 14,116 square miles, of which only 4,390 is land. According to the U.S. Census, its population is 5,634. Over 40% of the population is Asian. Almost 24% is White. The population is fairly affluent with a median household income of $87,466 well above the national number. The poverty rate is a low 7.6%. Based on the Microsoft Bing COVID-19 tracker, there are 106 cases in the Aleutians West Census Area and no deaths.
Alaska residents are fortunate to the extent to which the state has vaccinated the largest part of its population compared to other states. Alaska’s figure is 20% of the adult population compared to 13% for the country.
As has been true with everywhere the disease has spread aggressively, the figures will eventually get worse somewhere else in America, but for the time being the Aleutians West Census Area is getting the worst of it in the U.S.
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