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If You Live Here, You're in Danger, Virus Expert Warns

These states are seeing cases and hospitalizations rise.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Despite some declines in coronavirus cases, there are "states where the per capita case rates are more than double the national average, which sits at about 21 cases per a hundred thousand residents," warns virus expert Michael Osterholm. Which states are in the most precarious situations? Read on to see which states he named—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Anchorage Skyline with a winter reflection

"Alaska tops the list with nearly 100 cases per a hundred thousand population, a number that would place it among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest case rates, if in fact, Alaska were a country," said Osterholm. "Alaska on Tuesday reported 11 more virus-related deaths, 753 new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations near record levels," reports ADN. "Alaska's case rate over the past seven days remains the highest in the country and nearly five times the national average, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."



Sunset in Montana

"Montana became the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the country Tuesday morning. The New York Times COVID tracker moved Montana into the top slot as the state hit 97 cases per 100,000 people per day," reports the Billings Gazette. "Idaho and Wyoming follow with 78 cases and 75 cases per 100,000 people respectively. Alaska, which had been number one over the weekend, has moved down to fourth in the country with 71 cases per 100,000 people."

"We are the hottest spot and Yellowstone County is leading with the number of cases in the state," said Public Health Officer John Felton during a Tuesday meeting of the County Commissioners.

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boise idaho

"According to health experts and data, Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates for COVID-19 in the country. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show that about 43% of the state's total population is vaccinated, higher than only West Virginia," reports the Seattle Times. "But one Idaho county is a major outlier from the state's low rates. The statewide percentage of eligible Idahoans fully vaccinated is only about 54%, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, but Blaine County's vaccination rate for the same group is 86.8%." "Really it's a community effort up there," said Brianna Bodily, spokesperson for South Central Public Health District. "They felt the pains of the pandemic early on. They learned how to come together to fight."



Welcome to Utah road sign

"New coronavirus cases increased 8.8% in Utah in the week ending Sunday as the state added 9,748 cases. The previous week had 8,957 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19," reports the Spectrum. "Utah ranked seventh among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States decreased 14.2% from the week before, with 509,903 cases reported. With 0.96% of the country's population, Utah had 1.91% of the country's cases in the last week. Across the country, 11 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before."

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Colorado State Flag with Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods in the background on a spring day

"Colorado has the lowest number of hospital beds available right now compared with any other point in the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials said Wednesday," reports Axios. " It's still unclear what Gov. Jared Polis' administration will do to address the worsening situation. The rate of coronavirus cases nationwide is declining, but Colorado leads the U.S. in per capita case increases over the past two weeks. State public health officials cautioned that rising positivity rates indicate more hospitalizations to come. And the situation is taxing the state's health care system."

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Washington State

Seattle skyline at sunset, WA, USA

"The Washington State Department of Health reported 1,609 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 74 deaths since Monday. As of Wednesday, statewide totals from the illness caused by the coronavirus are 719,500 and 8,554 deaths. The case total includes 84,172 infections listed as probable. Death data is considered complete only through Oct. 9. DOH revises previous case and death counts daily. Washington's population is estimated at about 7.7 million, according to the latest U.S. Census figures," reports the News Tribune.


New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

"State health officials say New Mexico's latest COVID-19 trends show the state is continuing to deal with consistent, high numbers of new cases week after week. The continued trend comes as the state reached a grim milestone on Monday," reports KRQE. "The state's COVID-19 death toll surpassed 5,000 people on Monday, as the New Mexico Department of Health reported 15 additional deaths related to the virus over the week. As of Wednesday morning, the state's COVID-19 death toll was at 5,012.

At a news conference Wednesday, New Mexico Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross described the state's current COVID-case trend as 'fueled by Delta,' the highly infectious variant of COVID-19. The state peaked with Delta-related cases in mid-August to early September but has since maintained a high number of new COVID cases."

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How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek