9 States Where COVID Cases Are Rising Faster Than California and Texas

These smaller states are experiencing denser coronavirus outbreaks than more populous states.

At this point, if you've been following news about the coronavirus pandemic, you probably know which states are struggling to contain COVID outbreaks. While there are rising case numbers, hospitalizations, and now deaths across the country, certain states have been hit harder than others—and have emerged as the new epicenters of the pandemic in the U.S.: Texas, California, Arizona, and Florida. But these aren't the only states where COVID cases are rising rapidly.

"Populous states are generating some of the largest case counts," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, pointed out on Twitter. "But if you look at new cases per million, nine smaller states are showing more cases per million than California or Texas." While the numbers may seem more alarming in the biggest states, Gottlieb suggests we also direct our attention to these nine others, per the most recent data from the COVID Tracking Project. These states may not have the most coronavirus cases in the country, but they are suffering from "dense epidemics." And for more states on Gottlieb's radar, these are The 4 States You Should Be "Very Worried About," Says Former FDA Chief.


birmingham alabama

Based on how quickly coronavirus is rising in the state, the COVID Risk Level Map—a project by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI)—puts Alabama in the highest risk category. The experts at Covid Act Now also consider the state to be "critical," thanks to the high infection rate (1.19) and high positive test rate (18 percent). According to the COVID Tracking Project, Alabama has 383 daily new cases per million people, higher than California (173) and Texas (255). And for more states in need of immediate intervention, here are 11 States Where Locking Down Again Is Absolutely Necessary.


little rock arkansas

Like Alabama, Arkansas was one of the states identified as being in the "red zone" by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, per a document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Arkansas has a slightly higher infection rate than Alabama—1.20—which means the virus is spreading fast. More shockingly, the COVID Tracking Project says that Arkansas now has 462 new cases per million people.


boise idaho

HGHI director Ashish Jha, MD, singled out Idaho as a small state "experiencing a very bad situation [that] has gotten very little attention." He noted the skyrocketing case numbers, hospitalizations, and positive test rates in the state. According to the COVID Tracking Project, there are 320 new cases per million people in Idaho. And for more states the White House is concerned about, These States Are in the White House's "Red Zone" Says Leaked Document.


topeka kansas

Another one of the White House's "red zone" states, Kansas has a high positive test rate of 10.6 percent, as well as an infection rate of 1.08, according to Covid Act Now. Using the COVID Tracking Project's data, Kansas' rapid rise in cases becomes even more apparent: The state is now seeing 470 daily new cases per million people.


lexington kentucky

While Kentucky has maintained a moderate positive test rate of 5.9 percent, the high infection rate of 1.26 shows how quickly cases are spreading throughout the state. Gottlieb didn't just mention Kentucky on Twitter—he also named the state in a July 19 appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation when discussing the current "record numbers of cases, rising hospitalizations and really a shifting of the center of the epidemic potentially in the United States." Kentucky's current rate of daily new cases is slightly higher than Texas'—275 per million people, according to the COVID Tracking Project.


lafayette louisiana

Louisiana was one of two states the White House Coronavirus Task Force said was in need of "urgent attention," and the numbers reflect that assessment. With a staggering 685 new cases per million people, according to the COVID Tracking Project, Louisiana has by far the highest rate of daily new cases in the country. Even Florida, which is one of the major epicenters of the epidemic, doesn't come close with its 482 per million.


jackson mississippi

With a high infection rate of 1.12 and a high positive test rate of 16.5 percent, it's no surprise that Covid Act Now puts Mississippi at a "critical" risk level, and that the state is on the White House's list of "red zones." The COVID Tracking Project data paints an alarming picture on its own, however: Mississippi is now seeing 420 daily new cases per million people. And for more guidance for "red zone" states, discover The 8 Things You Need to Do If You Live in a "Red Zone," White House Says.


reno nevada

Another frequent cause for concern, Nevada has been cited by the White House and other experts as a state in trouble. The HGHI puts it in the highest risk category, as does Covid Act Now—not only for the high positive test rate (18.4 percent), but also for the dangerously low number of ICU beds remaining. Per the COVID Tracking Project, Nevada now has 308 daily new cases per million people.

South Carolina

myrtle beach south carolina

The "red zone" state of South Carolina came close to the top of the White House Coronavirus Task Force's list. As with Nevada, it's also in the "red" (or highest risk level) on the HGHI and Covid Act Now maps. In addition to a high positive test rate of 17.1 percent, South Carolina has a critically low number of contact tracers and available hospital beds. And it made Gottlieb's list for its daily new case rate, as determined by the COVID Tracking Project. Based on their data, the state is seeing 283 new cases per million people. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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