The pace at which COVID-19 has spread across America has slowed. Daily confirmed case and fatal case increases are less than half what they were two months ago when there were 225,000 additional cases a day and as many as 4,000 deaths. Nevertheless, the toll has been brutal. According to the Bing COVID-19 Tracker, 527,917 Americans have died, about 20% of the world total. Confirmed cases have reached 29,193,273, about a quarter of the global number. Many scientists believe this figure is far too low because of poor testing across much of the nation.
Vaccinations have joined mask-wearing and social distancing as primary weapons against the spread of the disease. There are three now–from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. The Biden Administration says there will be enough vaccine for all Americans by the end of May. Almost 17% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine. A total of 8.6% have received two doses. The CDC reports 114,133,115 doses have been delivered and from these 85,008,094 shots have been given.
One of the primary, if not the primary causes of concern among epidemiologists is the rise of variants, which appear to be the main driver of new infections. The CDC tracks three variants for the public. These are the B.1.1.7 variant, the B.1.351 variant, and the P.1. One or more of these has been found in 48 states.
Despite progress, marked by the drop in the rise in deaths and cases, some regions of the nation remain hard hit. These are often measured by raw numbers of deaths or cases. Another widely used metric is deaths and cases per 100,000 people in both states and counties. This allows for apples-to-apples comparisons regardless of population size.
The hardest-hit state as measured by deaths per 100,000 is Virginia at 1.45 as averaged over the last seven days. The state with the lowest comparable number is Maine at .05. Within Virginia, the hardest-hit county is Buena Vista County with a figure of 14.55.
Buena Vista County is on the York River, east of Richmond. According to the U.S. Census, its population as of July 1, 2019, was 6,478. Just under 88% of the population is White. At $32,455, its median household income is about $30,000 below the national average. Its 17.2% poverty rate is well above the national figure.
Buena Vista County will lose its distinction as the hardest-hit county in the hardest-hit state, as other countries have for the 14 months since COVID-19 reached America. Substantial human damage is bound to remain.
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