Coronavirus infections outside of New York City on the rise as multiple states open up
05/06/2020 // Franz Walker // Views

Infection rates in New York are slowly on the decline. Outside the Empire State, however, the rest of the country is moving in the opposite direction. An analysis by the Associated Press found that known infection rates outside of New York are rising even as other states move to lift their lockdowns.

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, new confirmed infections per day in the U.S. exceed 20,000, and deaths per day are well over 1,000. Public officials now warn that the failure to flatten the curve and drive down infection rates in places could lead to many more deaths, as people are allowed to go out and businesses to reopen.

“Make no mistakes: This virus is still circulating in our community, perhaps even more now than in previous weeks,” stated Linda Ochs, health director for Shawnee County, Kansas.

Taking New York out the equation shows infection rates are rising

The tightly packed New York metropolitan area, which is home to around 20 million people, has been the outbreak's epicenter in America, accounting for nearly one-third of the nation's 70,000 coronavirus deaths. If the area, which is currently under lockdown is included, the number of infections in the U.S. appears to be on the decline, according to the AP analysis. It also found that the five-day rolling average for new cases decreased to 8.6 per 100,000 people as of Monday, down from 9.6 three weeks ago.

Without the New York area, the story of the analysis changes. The rolling average for new cases outside the state actually increased over the same period – from 6.2 to 7.5.


The daily number of new deaths in the New York metropolitan area has seen a marked decline in recent weeks. However, in the rest of the country, it has essentially just plateaued. Without the former, the five-day rolling average for new deaths per 500,000 people dropped only slightly to 1.82, down from 1.86 on April 20.

Testing for the coronavirus in the U.S. expanded, which contributes to the increasing rate of confirmed infections. However, according to Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, a public health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, the expanded testing doesn't explain the entire increase.

“This increase is not because of testing. It’s a real increase,” he stated.

Ominous trends in the spread of the pandemic are emerging in places all over the country, far from New York City.

On Monday, Shawnee County in Kansas reported a doubling of cases from last week on the same day that business restrictions started to be eased. On Tuesday, deaths in Iowa surged to a new daily high of 19, while 730 workers from a Tyson Foods meat processing plant tested positive.

Meanwhile, the city of Gallup in New Mexico was put under strict lockdown until Thursday because of an outbreak. Guarded roadblocks have been set up, alongside a ban on having more than two people in a vehicle, to prevent travel in and out of the city.

Updated projections show increased infections

On Monday, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) released a new model that nearly doubled its projection of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. to around 134,000 through early August. (Related: CDC projecting SURGE in deaths, hospitalizations by early June: 3,000 deaths and 200,000 new infections per day.)

“These projections are considerably higher than previous estimates, representing the combined effects of death model updates and formally incorporating the effect of changes in mobility and social distancing policies into transmission dynamics,” the IMHE said in its update.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, also attributed the increase to the fact that most states are expected to ease restrictions by next week.

According to Murray, without stay-at-home orders and similar measures, “we would have had exponential growth, much larger epidemics and deaths in staggering numbers.” However, he also warns that cooperation is waning, with cellphone location data showing that people have been going out even before their states reopen.

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