This State Now Has the Single Worst COVID-19 Infection Rate in the U.S.

Louisiana is now at the top of the leaderboard in a COVID contest no state wants to win.

Over the past month, as coronavirus cases in the former epicenter, New York, have steadily declined, multiple new COVID-19 hotspots have emerged, particularly in southern and western states that reopened early. While the most populous states among them—like California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona—have received the lion's share of the attention, there is another southern state that is now winning a race no one wants to win. As of July 27, Louisiana has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per capita. That means, the virus is spreading faster in the Bayou state than it is in any other state in the country. It now has 2,316 COVID cases per 100,000 residents, according to The New York Times database.

Yes, California, Florida, and New York have reported more total cases, but Louisiana has more COVID cases per 100,000 residents than any other. The second highest is Arizona (2,226 per 100,000) and then New York (2,141 per 100,000 residents).

Louisiana has the dubious distinction of being a COVID hotspot during both the beginning of the pandemic in March and April, as well as being among the new crop of hotspots that have emerged in the month of July. In March, Louisiana's COVID outbreak was largely focused in the metropolitan area of New Orleans. At the time, many medical and public health experts pointed to Mardi Gras crowds early in the month as the source of the spread. Now it appears that the spread of COVID-19 is occurring in more rural parts of the state. According to a report by The Advocate, Louisiana's Acadiana, Lake Charles, Alexandria, and Shreveport regions have all seen record hospitalizations in July.

louisiana map shows state is infected with coronavirus

On July 26, the state saw the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day: 3,840 infections. On that same day, hospitalizations also hit their highest point since May 1 at 1,600 coronavirus patients, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

But ICU capacity isn't even some health officials' biggest concern. "Physical space, we can continue to cram patients in the room," Manley Jordan, MD, chief medical officer at Lake Charles' largest hospital, Memorial Health System, told The Advocate. "It's the human resource we're worried about. It's a matter of how long we have to run this hard, and is there more surge coming."

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A White House document that leaked two weeks ago revealed that Louisiana was on a list of states considered to be in the COVID "red zone" because they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in a week. Following that, Deborah Birx, MD, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, privately warned a handful of major U.S. cities that they needed to get their outbreaks under control and get "aggressive." New Orleans was included in that list as well. And for more on that, check out 11 COVID Hotspots That Need to Get "Aggressive."

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