These 4 States Are Now the Worst Coronavirus Hotspots in the U.S.

Though cases are on the decline across the nation, these four states have the most new cases per capita.

After a devastating June and July, the U.S. has finally begun to see new COVID case numbers decline across most of the country in August. The U.S. testing czar Brett Giroir, MD, even said it's clear that "trends are going in the right direction" during a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services telebriefing. But that's not quite true everywhere. In fact, in a few states, the number of new cases is still climbing and there's a fresh crop of states becoming the nation's worst coronavirus hotspots.

As schools and universities struggle to get students back to class safely and local officials debate over the appropriate response, the states with the highest number of new cases per capita per week continues to shift. Based on The New York Times data as of Aug. 20, the following four states are now the worst coronavirus hotspots in the U.S. And for more on places that could soon find themselves in a similar position, check out These 5 States Could Be the Next COVID Hotspots, Researchers Say.


atlanta georgia skyline

New cases per capita for the last seven days: 166 per 100,000 people

Georgia has had a hard week in the limelight when it comes to coronavirus news. While businesses in the state continue to operate as fully reopened without a mask mandate in place, a White House report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated that "Georgia's small gains are fragile and statewide progress will require continued, expanded, and stronger mitigation efforts, including in all open schools."

The leaked report corresponded with Georgia taking the top spot in the nation for daily new cases per capita, though it's further down the list in weekly new cases per capita. According to data from the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) as of August 20, Georgia is still the only state in the U.S. currently designated in the "highest risk" category, meaning the HGHI recommends the state go back to stay-at-home orders. And for more on places that are struggling with their case numbers, check out This U.S. Destination Is Now the Fastest-Growing COVID Hotspot.


Nashville, Tennessee

New cases per capita for the last seven days: 166 per 100,000 people

While technically tied with Georgia for new cases over the past week, Tennessee has long been a state of concern for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. After Deborah Birx, MD, recommended that Tennessee shutter bars and limit indoor dining to combat surging case numbers, Gov. Bill Lee declined to follow the advice. Even though the state has seen a 14 percent decrease in new daily cases from its previous average two weeks ago, Tennessee still remains among the top states for new weekly cases per capita in the country.


jackson mississippi

New cases per capita for the last seven days: 174 per 100,000 people

Mississippi's building crisis was kept from the limelight due to huge spikes in nearby Texas and Florida, but the state has officially become one of the worst coronavirus hotspots in the U.S. After holding off on issuing a statewide mask mandate until August 11, the state has rushed to reopen schools and colleges, leading to local outbreaks. Mississippi now has the second-highest number of new weekly cases per capita in the nation. And for more on how states should react to these COVID surges, check out Dr. Fauci Says These States Don't Need to Lock Down Again.


dallas texas skyline

New cases per capita for the last seven days: 175 per 100,000 people

Everything is bigger in Texas, and unfortunately, that has included coronavirus counts as of late. The state's weekly per capita numbers are the highest of any state in the nation as of August 20. Unlike other states with surging numbers, in early July, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a mask mandate and closed bars statewide in an attempt to bring down surging numbers. Still, COVID continues to dominate in the Lone Star State. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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