This State Is About to Have the Single Worst Outbreak in the Country

You'll be surprised to learn which state is about to surpass Florida in cases per capita.

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As we turned the corner into the summer season, we saw the cases in many Southern states begin to spike. Over the past month, hard-hit states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona were the focus of negative attention for their mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. But with cases in these states beginning to plateau—and in some cases drop—there is a new spot that is proving to be cause for concern: Mississippi. The state of Mississippi currently has the second-highest number of new cases per capita, according to The New York Times' data. That means it could soon have the worst outbreak in the U.S.

Mississippi has received little nationwide media attention throughout the pandemic, but recently, Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), called the state out for doing "very badly." According to Jha, "Compared to two weeks ago Mississippi: Testing is down 8 percent [and] cases up 37 percent. So that means test positivity is up. Way up. Actually highest in the nation at 22 percent."

Hospitalizations and the daily death toll have also doubled over the past two weeks, according to Jha. Mississippi reported their highest number of new cases yet on July 30 with 1,775 cases, while a month earlier, the state reported a fraction of that number with just 680 new cases, according to The New York Times.

Woman walking outside wearing a mask
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Jha feels there are a handful of issues contributing to Mississippi's climbing cases. He faults the state for having bars, restaurants, and retail shops open with very modest limits, letting schools struggle to figure out how to reopen safely, and not having a statewide mask mandate—although many counties have instituted their own.

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Jha prescribed Mississippi the "recipe known" to bring cases down: stop anything indoors (including dining, bars, and gyms), implement a statewide mask mandate, and fix testing. Jha insists the state can't open schools safely right now—"they'll just shut down," he says. According to a local Fox affiliate, the Corinth School District in Mississippi already had at least one student test positive during the first week of school.

Part of the challenge for Mississippi is that the state started off at a disadvantage. According to The Daily Beast, Mississippi has fewer doctors per capita than any other state in the country, which poses a significant challenge for coronavirus patients seeking treatment or testing. Both the health care system and morgues are already overwhelmed in Mississippi, and the crisis shows no signs of ending anytime soon. And to learn more about which states are seeing the most COVID growth, Here's How Much COVID Cases Are Rising in Every State.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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