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COVID is Still "Too High" in These States

Here are the top five states in the US for COVID-19 cases
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With states across the U.S. lifting mask mandates and easing COVID-19 restrictions, it would seem the virus is somewhat under control—although that is not the case across the board. "If you look at where we are right now, clearly, there is a sharp decrement in the cases and in the hospitalizations, with a little bit less of a lagging or more of a lagging with deaths," says Dr. Anthony Fauci. "But, every day, when you look at the data, and you do weekly averages, you're seeing the cases and the hospitalizations go down. That's very good news. However, when you look at the CDC map of high and substantial activity, it's still really mostly red or orange, which means that it's right up there where there is a lot of activity." Here are the top five states with the highest levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


#5 Kentucky

Worried nurse sitting in hospital corridor

Kentucky is number 5 on the list, with a daily average of 4,940 cases and 1,904 hospitalizations.

"The best thing we can do is protect ourselves from getting infected, not getting exposed, not letting our guard down," says Dr. Joseph Flynn, chief administration officer with the Norton Medical Group and the physician-in-chief with the Norton Cancer Institute.


#4 North Carolina

Healthcare worker with protective equipment performs coronavirus swab on a woman.

North Carolina is number 4 on the list, with a daily average of 5,302 daily cases and 3,401 hospitalizations. Doctors in NC are asking patients not to visit hospitals for routine COVID-19 test. "We have to triage people based on their level of sickness," says Dr. Adia Ross, Chief Medical Officer at Duke Regional Hospital. "If you come in and you are just wanting a COVID test and you are not very ill then you are going to go on the bottom of the list of people to see, so not only are you creating increased wait times for those who are really ill but you, yourself, are going to have to wait probably a long time in our ER."


#3 Florida

Doctor examining female patient in critical health conditions using a stethoscope in the intensive care unit of a modern hospital during covid-19 pandemic

Florida comes in at number 3, with a daily average of 6,693 cases and 5,314 hospitalizations.

"Beginning in late July [2021], the number of Covid-19 patients we are caring for has skyrocketed. The hospital went from fewer than 20 patients with active Covid-19 to more than 200 today," says Jennifer Caputo-Seidler, MD., assistant professor of medicine at the University of South Florida. "When the two floors of our Global Emerging Disease Institute quickly filled with Covid-19 patients, we scrambled to convert other areas of the hospital to treat them."

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#2 Texas

Young parents saying goodbye to their little children near school

Texas is the second-worst place in the U.S. with a daily average of 10,041 daily cases and 7,855 hospitalizations. Over 100 Texas doctors sent a letter to the state House of Representatives in August, asking for better protections and assistance in fighting COVID-19.

"Although the Delta variant is even more contagious than previous strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there are fewer state public health protocols in place today than were in place one year ago to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. Instead, state lawmakers seek to prevent cities, counties, and school districts from imposing masking, social distancing, contact tracing, and occupancy requirements, even though these are proven public health interventions that, combined with vaccination, are essential to containing the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing businesses and schools to remain open safely."

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And the Winner Is… #1 California

A woman displays her vaccination card and the

The dubious honor of U.S state with the highest level of COVID-19 is California, with a daily average of 14,691 cases and 8,459 hospitalizations. California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a shift to an "endemic" approach in dealing with the virus. "We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus," Newsom said during a Feb. 17 press conference. "This pandemic won't have a defined end. There's no finish line."

"Surveillance, testing, vaccination and treatment make the context very different and make it appropriate to shift our response from a pandemic response of trying to do everything possible, to a more rational response to try to implement things that we have strong evidence that work," says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, epidemiologist at the University of Southern California.

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.


Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan