These 5 States Could Be the Next COVID Hotspots, Researchers Say
Will your state be home to the next COVID outbreak? Researchers determined these spots should be on watch.
Over the past few months, the U.S.'s coronavirus hotspots have shifted from New York and much of New England to the Sun Belt states—and now, the virus is heading into the Midwest. These revolving COVID hotspots may seem unpredictable to the average person, but researchers have been using data to make hypotheses about where COVID-19 will spike next. For example, the research team at UrbanFootprint, an urban intelligence software company, has been able to develop predictions about the U.S.'s next COVID hotspots to help officials make decisions, generating what's called the "COVID Watch List."
To come up with their list, the researchers examined fever data from smart thermometers; movement data to see which areas are at an increased risk of accelerated transmission; and risk factors such as economic and social vulnerabilities, which might make a community more susceptible to COVID. Currently, they warn that the following five states are at risk of becoming the next COVID hotspots. And for more risk factors to be aware of, check out 24 Things You're Doing Every Day That Put You at COVID Risk.
Missouri's cases climbed throughout July, but began to see a drop at the beginning of August, according to data from The New York Times. Deborah Birx, MD, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has been touring a handful of Midwestern states, imploring citizens to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19. And on Aug. 18, Birx stopped by Missouri to have a discussion with Gov. Mike Parson about the state's response to the coronavirus.
Some citizens in Missouri have been angry over the mandatory mask mandate implemented in certain counties. While signs that read "Resist the Mandatory Mask" speckle the lawns of some Missouri towns, Birx advised Parson that any county with more than 20 active COVID cases should have a mask mandate in place, according to The Kansas City Star.
Additionally, at the beginning of August, Birx warned Kansas City, Missouri, and eight other cities that they need to be doing more to mitigate COVID. To see all the cities Birx named, check out 9 Major Cities the White House Is Worried About.
Although Washington state's COVID cases have been on the decline for the past few weeks, the COVID Watch List is predicting the state could see a spike again. Washington is currently in the yellow zone on the Harvard Global Health Institute's (HGHI) COVID Risk Level map—with less than 10 new daily cases per 100,000 people. But Washington residents need to make sure they continue doing everything they can to avoid proving the COVID Watch List correct. And for more at-risk states, check out These States Could Be the Next to See a COVID Surge.
Illinois got its COVID cases down at the end of May, but by mid-July, the state's numbers were climbing again, according to The New York Times' data. Currently, Illinois' cases seem to be on a consistent incline.
According to the Daily Herald, Illinois reported a 5.1 percent positive test rate on Aug. 18—their highest since Jun. 5. Illinois' steadily climbing cases seem to be an indicator that they may fulfill the COVID Watch List's prediction. For another way to predict COVID hotspots, check out The CDC Has a New Way of Predicting a COVID Outbreak in Your Town.
After cases spiked in early April, Michigan got its daily cases down—even as low as 56 new cases on June 15—before numbers began to rise once more, according to data from The New York Times. Although the 7-day average of new daily cases seems to be plateauing around 740, the state is in a delicate position where it could either see cases spike or drop. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Texas is the only state currently on the COVID Watch List that's also in the red zone on the HGHI COVID Risk Level map—with 25 or more new daily cases per 100,000 people. The Lone Star State saw a spike in cases following its reopening, and it seems to still be advancing upwards, according to The New York Times' data. On Aug. 17, Texas became the fourth state to record over 10,000 COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, which experts believe could be a low estimate due to insufficient testing, according to The Texas Tribune.