The delta variant of the Covid-19 virus has boomeranged the country back to transmission levels we saw last February, erasing nearly a half a year’s progress in fighting the pandemic.
On the Brown School of Public Health’s risk-assessment map, the red-colored states are recording an average of 25 or more new daily cases per 100,000 people. Health officials deem communities with that level of transmission to be “at a tipping point.”
The speed at which the virus is spreading is remarkable. Two weeks ago, the risk-assessment map featured three red states. Last week, there were seven states in the red. Today there are 14.
Travelers in the United States should pack a face mask regardless of their vaccination status. In the past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its mask guidance due to new findings that breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals are more common than previously thought. Health officials now recommend that even vaccinated people should wear face masks indoors in areas experiencing a high level of virus spread.
Here are the 10 states with the highest community spread of Covid-19 in the U.S., according to data from the Brown School of Public Health.
For the past month, Florida has been the epicenter of the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The Sunshine State is currently recording an average of 96.5 new daily Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people, according to Brown University data. That’s an astonishing rise of 59% in one week and four times the threshold of what health officials consider a “very high” rate of spread.
The vast majority of Florida counties are red and the remainder colored orange (over 10 new daily cases per 100,000 people) on Brown’s risk-assessment map. Less than half of Floridians are fully vaccinated.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order remains in place banning local governments from requiring face masks, even as the Orlando area is experiencing record-breaking infection levels. Yesterday, Disney World returned to an indoor mask mandate.
The current level of transmission is of importance to people cruising out of Florida, which is home to the three largest cruise ports in the United States. Thanks to DeSantis’s much-hyped but unpopular law banning so-called vaccine passports, cruise lines are prohibited from requiring passengers sailing from Florida to show proof of their vaccination status.
With an average of 81.9 new daily Covid-19 cases per day per 100,000 people — a 73% increase since last week — Louisiana holds on to its no. 2 position for virus spread in the country. Only 36.8% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, virtually no improvement since last week.
Last week, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an indoor mask advisory as COVID-19 cases surge in the city. “I am recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask indoors when with people who are not in their immediate household,” tweeted Cantrell.
Heading into this weekend, Arkansas is logging an average of 58.2 new Covid-19 cases every day per 100,000 people, which is a jump of 35% since last week. Only 36.2% of Arkansans are fully vaccinated.
Yesterday Governor Asa Hutchinson reinstated a public health emergency but did not address the Arkansas law prohibiting mask mandates in his state.
Oklahoma jumped up one position to the no. 4 slot this week. In the Sooner State, where 40% of the population is fully vaccinated, an average of 55.8 new Covid-19 cases are recorded every day per 100,000 people — a 58% jump in seven days.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has called on Oklahomans to wear masks in public but rejected calls for a state mandate. Local mask mandates in the largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, ended last spring.
Mississippi also jumped up a position in the rankings since the past week. The state is currently recording an average of 48 new daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, which is a big 62% increase since last week. Only 36.4% of Mississippians are fully vaccinated, but that’s up from 34% last week.
The state’s hot spot is Hinds County, home of the state capital, Jackson. In that county, community spread is averaging 71.4 new cases per 100,000 people.
While the transmission rate is on the rise in Missouri, the Show Me State managed to drop two places in the last week. The state is currently recording 40.6 new daily Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people, which is up 11% in the past week. Only 41.1% of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated.
On July 26, St. Louis reimposed a local mask mandate in indoor public places and on public transportation. The next day, Kansas City’s mayor said that his city will also bring back its indoor mask order.
Despite Governor Kay Ivey’s pleas for Alabamans to get their shots, only 34.2% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. Alabama is recording an average of 34.8 new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.
Only 44.2% of Nevadans are fully vaccinated. Overall, the Silver State is recording an average of 32.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people — a 22% jump since last week.
But not every Nevada county is a Covid-19 hot spot. The highest number of Covid-19 cases is in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. The Clark County Commission voted last week in an emergency meeting to require face coverings for all employees working indoors.
Alaska is no. 9 in the country, with an average of 29.6 new cases of Covid-19 every day per 100,000 people. Only 45.4% of Alaskans are fully vaccinated.
Texas rounds out the top 10 states for Covid-19 transmission this week, recording 26.9 new daily cases, on average, per 100,000 people. 43.7% of Texans are fully vaccinated.