These 14 States Need to "Be Careful" With COVID Now, Virus Expert Warns

An epidemiologist says these states' new case numbers don't look good against their vaccine rates.

There's a lot to celebrate right now in terms of the COVID pandemic. As of Apr. 30, 101.4 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's nearing almost half of the U.S.'s adult population. And though some states are the exception, COVID cases haven't been this low nationwide since Oct. 2020, as NPR reports. But a concerning trend has emerged in recent weeks: The rate at which people are getting vaccinated is slowing down. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of CDC data, the U.S. administered about 2.8 million COVID vaccines a day during the past week, down from an average of about 3.2 million per day earlier in April.

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, voiced his concerns about the dwindling vaccination rate recently. On the Apr. 29 episode of his Osterholm Update podcast, the infectious disease expert said states with higher new case rates and lower vaccination rates are the ones that need to "be careful" right now.

"We're watching vaccinations drop precipitously in terms of new vaccinations. For the last four or five days, we have had more people in this country vaccinated for second dose only as opposed to the first dose, indicating that the numbers are coming down," Osterholm explained. "We've got some big holes out there yet."

"I just want us to be cautious here," Osterholm continued. "I know others will say, it's not going to surge, I'm blowing this out of proportion. But you look at the numbers yourself. And when we look at this, we see in so many instances the situation where we do have substantial gaps in vaccination. … Certainly some in the Northwest where we're seeing vaccine hesitancies, others in the South where we're seeing vaccine hesitancy. So I just raise this point right now that I think we have to be careful to assume we're done."

Specifically, Osterholm pointed out 14 states that should be on the lookout. For a better understanding of how vaccination rates vary in these states, we looked to Becker's Hospital Review, which calculated the percentage of people in each state who've been vaccinated, using the CDC's vaccine tracking data as of Apr. 30. Then, we looked at COVID Act Now's U.S. COVID Risk & Vaccine Tracker to compile new case rates on the 14 states Osterholm is worried about as of Apr. 30 as well. We've also included COVID Act Now's vulnerability level for each state—some of which match Osterholm's concern, while others do not.

Keep reading to find out which states need to be careful, according to the virus expert. (For comparison, right now, Maine has the highest percentage of people vaccinated, with 39 percent, and California has the lowest new case rate, at 4.4 per 100,000 people.) And for more on where COVID cases are climbing, These 4 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges Right Now.

1
Alabama

city skyline of birmingham, alabama
Von Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 23.32 percent

Number of new cases: 7.2 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

2
Arkansas

rock formation in park in chicot county arkansas
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 25.38 percent

Number of new cases: 6.2 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: High

And for more news on COVID in the U.S., 65 Percent of Vaccinated People Who Get COVID Have This in Common, CDC Says.

3
Georgia

cityscape photo of fast moving traffic on a highway and building in Atlanta, Georgia at night
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How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 24.41 percent

Number of new cases: 12.2 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

4
Idaho

cityscape photos of mountains, moving cars, buildings, and the state capitol in Boise, Idaho at sunset
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 26.99 percent

Number of new cases: 12 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Low

And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

5
Indiana

Downtown Indianapolis skyline with the Depew Memorial Fountain, Obelisk, park, and the Indiana World War Memorial in the foreground.
iStock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 26.81 percent

Number of new cases: 15.2 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: High

6
Louisiana

An aerial photo of downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana with the Mississippi River in view
iStock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 26.62 percent

Number of new cases: 8.9 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: High

And if you did get your shot, find out why these are The Riskiest Things You're Doing After You're Vaccinated, CDC Says.

7
Mississippi

light house in biloxi, mississippi, dusk
Von Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 23.78 percent

Number of new cases: 7.3 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

8
Missouri

cityscape photo of Kansas City, Missouri
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 27.39 percent

Number of new cases: 10.5 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: High

9
Oklahoma

bricktown in oklahoma city, river,
Von Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 29.62 percent

Number of new cases: 6.1 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

And for more on rare breakthrough cases, The CDC Says People Who Get COVID After Vaccination Have This in Common.

10
South Carolina

downtown area of Charleston, South Carolina in the afternoon
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 27.34 percent

Number of new cases: 14.7 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: High

11
Tennessee

skyline in downtown tennessee, nashville, river, boat
Von ESB Professional / Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 24.48 percent

Number of new cases: 13.9 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

12
Texas

cityscape photo of San Antonio, Texas at dusk
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 26.99 percent

Number of new cases: 11 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very high

And for more news about the virus, find out why This Vaccine Side Effect Could Mean You Already Had COVID, New Study Says.

13
West Virginia

city skyline and river in downtown Charleston, West Virginia at dusk
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 30.34 percent

Number of new cases: 19.5 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very low

14
Wyoming

moulton barn at the grand teton national park in wyoming
Shutterstock

How much of the population is fully vaccinated: 27.76 percent

Number of new cases: 11.3 per 100,000 people

Vulnerability level: Very low

And for more coronavirus updates, know that This Common Insect Can Carry and Spread COVID, New Study Shows.

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