This State Is Now Experiencing the Worst COVID Spike in the U.S.

According to COVID tracking data, this surprising state is facing the worst coronavirus spike nationwide.

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Let's open with the good news: Many states that were seeing the most rapid spread of COVID-19 weeks ago—like Arizona and California—have brought down their daily number of infections and appear to have turned a crucial corner. The discouraging news, however, is that the coronavirus is showing no signs of letting up, and a new crop of states are now seeing COVID cases spike. But the worst among them will likely surprise you: Hawaii is currently seeing the coronavirus spread faster than anywhere else.

The Aloha State earns this ignominious moniker according to a real-time tracker of how fast COVID-19 is spreading by state called rt.live. The site posts "the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person," which is called the Rt, value. When the Rt is below 1.0, the virus is slowing down, but if the Rt is above 1.0, the virus is actively spreading

As of August 11, Hawaii doesn't just have the highest infection rate of 1.38, but it is the highest by a considerable measure. The states with the second and third highest infection rates in the U.S. are South Dakota with 1.2 and Texas with 1.16.

closeup of boy with hawaiian shirt on wearing a mask, profile shot
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Hawaii saw a similar infection rate of 1.33 during the earliest days of the pandemic, but after instituting a shelter-at-home mandate and being one of the first states to require tourists to quarantine, the state's infection rate dropped to a much healthier .63 in early April.

Like so many other states, an earlier reopening of businesses coincided with a rise in infections, as did opening the state back up to visitors. Gov. David Ige announced in late June that travelers could visit Hawaii again beginning August 1 without quarantining by presenting a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding a flight. As you've likely heard, however, coronavirus test results are not the most reliable.

Most of the new COVID cases in Hawaii have been in Honolulu and its surrounding suburbs, according to the Associated Press. In response to Hawaii's spike in cases, health officials closed beaches and state parks on Oahu and restricted other activities. Additionally, Ige plans to reinstate a requirement that people traveling between the islands of Hawaii quarantine for 14 days, starting on August 11.

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Scott Miscovich, MD, who oversees mass testing events throughout the state, told Hawaii News Now that the state's high infection rate is "a glaring example of how we need to be serious about this."

"We need to wear masks, we need to social distance," he said. "We are spreading it in closed respiratory environments. Get outside. It's very serious."

According to recent research, the rise in cases in Hawaii can largely be traced to one type of gathering in particular. For more on that, check out The Surprising Source of Hawaii's COVID Surge, According to Officials.

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