Data insight

The pandemic across US states

If US states were countries, how many would be in the global Top 50 for cases?

Comparing US states with 195 countries, 20 of them would currently be among places with the highest new cases per capita in the world. 

At some level, this is an unfair comparison as ideally we would have to include into this comparison also the subnational entities of other (especially larger) countries. After all, we do see as an empirical regularity (while keeping other aspects constant) that outbursts tend to be more intense as we shift from national to subnational levelsEven so, several US states are more populous than most countries. 

How did this Top 50 evolve over time? The chart below compares the Top 50 between April 1 and the current date. As we can see, many more states are currently part of the Top 50. On April 1, only 1 state featured. Of course, we should take into account the fact that the scale of infection back then was at a different level than what it is now. Even so, the conclusion remains that at the US subnational level the pandemic appears to be intensifying relative to nations of the rest of the world.

See below for a dynamic visualization of the evolution between April 1 and the most recent data available. This shows the progression during this period well.  

Turning now to the US as a whole, the chart below shows the developments in daily cases and deaths per capita, where the individual bars show the actual daily values and the solid line represents the daily average (a 7-day trailing average).   

How do the recent developments of cases compare with other countries? In the two charts below we compare the US with 195 other countries (no more visualization of subnational units) and show the Top 50 among them for newly confirmed cases on a daily basis. Again we take a 7-day trailing average.

Countries in this Top 50 are grouped according to the World Bank’s income classification (high-income, upper-middle-income, lower-middle-income and low-income countries or HICs, UMICs, LMICs and LICs). This helps us control for the level of development, which in turn proxies a host of structural features that may affect infection prevalence and infection fatality risk as well as the intensity and quality of testing which will affect measurement. 

The chart ranks countries with each income group by the value for new cases and also ranks the income groups themselves by the maximum value observed within each group for new cases. The first chart shows the number of cases in absolute terms and the second one in per capita terms.