The first cases of COVID-19 appeared in the northwest and northeast regions of the United States and grew in those states during the cold winter months.
While California and Arizona experienced its fair share of cases in January, Washington state and Illinois had the majority of cases. In February COVID-19 spread to surrounding states along with the first documented case on the east coast in Massachusetts. The virus spread like a wildfire in March as all 50 states reported COVID-19 cases. By April, however, New York was the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. New Jersey and Massachusetts were not far behind, and Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, and Michigan all reported a significant spike of cases as well. This trend continued in May. In June, there was a change in circumstances as southern states like Florida and Texas reflected numbers that mirrored the high number of COVID-19 new cases in the north.
As early as late April and early May states begin to relax restrictions. The weather started to warm up across the country. Some speculated the warm weather would level the playing field and the north would see cases drop to the level of the warm south as summer officially started. Unfortunately, things took a different turn and the southern states are seeing increases and are overtaking their northern counterparts in daily and month numbers.
Now as we move closer to the 4th of July holiday the country has mostly reopened. Many people who became impatient with staying at home or isolating are trying to find places or activities that are safe. Most people have canceled out-of-state vacation plans due to the virus spread in their area or their preferred destination. Typical travel destinations are leading the pack in new cases. California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina have had more cases than any other state in the month of June. This is leading many to look for ways to spend leisure time in their own state and people in those states wondering if they can even enjoy the summer at home.
Without a vaccine and more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases in the United States, top health officials are discouraging road trips or travel this summer, so the purpose of this blog is not to encourage you to visit the safest states. However, there is good news if you live in Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Vermont, or West Virginia. While your friends in other areas might be quarantined and limiting activities, you can go out and enjoy the natural resources of your state and the warm summer weather from the beach to hiking without as much of a fear of contracting the virus, as long as you follow the CDC guidelines.
The June trends are showing that states with the lowest death cases are on a plateau, while the death quantity in the states with the highest death cases is still growing.
The states with high cases in previous months are still feeling the effects of deaths due to a lag time from confirmed cases till death. Given these states with spikes in the month June should prepare for high death numbers well into the summer months.
If you are in a high-risk population and could likely suffer the worst if infected, it might be best to stick to solo outdoor activities such as hiking, running, or taking a walk in a park. Also, there are plenty of good shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon to watch until the numbers hopefully improve in July and August.
If you are from a place with a high number of cases or deaths, give a second thought before you pack your bags for vacations in a safer state. Think about the other people, especially the older ones that you may expose to risk.
In the new COVID-19 era if we continue to act only for our own needs and pleasure, it is very likely that we will make the situation worse for all of us. Things could get worse before they get better. The only way to prevent the worst is by re-thinking the impact of what we do and learn to really care and help each other.
Important to keep in mind that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges all Americans to stay home and avoid non-essential travel. Medical Experts recommend only doing outdoor activities with the people in your household and staying six feet away from neighbors or others in public areas and exercise the CDC safety guidelines.
Credit: Data from The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies.