As the U.S. prepares for a potential winter coronavirus surge, many states are proving how safety is a priority by keeping cases down and taking continued precautions to help prevent spreading the virus. But others haven't done such a great job at keeping the pandemic under control. WalletHub did a recent survey that ranks the safest states and the District of Columbia. According to the site, "In order to identify the safest states during the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across five key metrics: 1) Vaccination Rate, 2) Positive Testing Rate, 3) Hospitalization Rate, 4) Death Rate, and 5) Transmission Rate… Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the safest conditions." Read below to find out the 7 least safest states according to WalletHub. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Ohio has "Exceptionally High" Cases in the Northwest
Ohio ranked 45 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey and is experiencing a rise in cases and deaths. Cleveland.com reports, "COVID-19 activity is 'exceptionally high' in Northwest Ohio, which has the highest case rate per 100,000 residents in the state, coming in at 742.4 cases per 100,000 residents, Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said in a press briefing. "The lowest region by comparison, is southwest Ohio at 401.9 cases per 100,000 residents." Vanderhoff added, "While you can still see the cases are high in all of Ohio's counties, it's clear that a higher vaccination rate is correlated with a lower case rate. Simply put, it's a further demonstration of the protective impact of vaccination."
North Dakota "Delta Wave Remains Stubborn"
North Dakota ranked 46 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey and can't shake the Delta variant. The Dickinson Press reports "The delta wave, which started in North Dakota this summer, peaked at 4,604 active cases on Oct. 6 and since has generally edged down along a zig-zagging trend line. Active cases were as high as 3,904 on Nov. 10 but fell to 2,841 as of Sunday, Nov. 21, according to figures from the North Dakota Department of Health." But officials are worried about a holiday surge. Dr. Avish Nagpal, the chief infectious disease specialist at Sanford Health in Fargo said, "Holidays always bring an unpredictable factor with them. We may see cases go up again.
Idaho Governor Urges People to Get the COVID Vaccine
Idaho ranked 47 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey. There's a decline in cases in some counties in Idaho, but there's still too many Covid cases in other areas. Big County News reports, Dave Jeppesen, Idaho Department of Health&Welfare director told local press, "Cases have even begun declining in North Idaho, but every county in that region remains above the 25 per 100,000 incidence rate, and test positivity up there remains above 10%. "The hospitals are still stretched." In addition, Jeppesen said, "What we see is that the vast, vast majority of deaths come from those that are unvaccinated. … If somebody gets vaccinated, the likelihood of catching COVID goes dramatically down, and then even if that person still catches COVID," in what's called a "breakthrough" case, their likelihood of dying is "four times or five times less…The vaccines actually are very effective at preventing death."
According to WalletHub, "Note: *No. 1 = Safest **Idaho provides vaccine data only for vaccine recipients who are 18 years and older, in line with state laws. COVID-19 vaccination administration data is unavailable for the Vaccinations in the US and Vaccinations by County pages for the population aged less than 18 years. Since no individuals under 18 from Idaho are included in the vaccination totals, CDC is working to subtract Census figures for the Idaho population under the age of 18 from the total US and ID population denominators and from the US and ID populations denominators for people aged 12 years and older."
Kentucky: "This Pandemic Isn't Done With Us"
Kentucky ranked 48 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey and the state has a 6.56 percent positivity rate according to the Lexington Herald Leader. The local outlet reports, "For the last three days have been the highest for each day in four weeks — 2,048 with 42 deaths on Saturday, 1,018 with 15 deaths on Sunday and 822 with 44 new deaths on Monday." Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addressed the situation, "Saying "this pandemic isn't done with us," and that "COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state are "not just creeping up, they are moving up."
West Virginia: "We're Headed in an Upward Trend"
West Virginia ranked 49 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey and the state is seeing an increase in cases. Metro News reports officials are worried about a surge in cases this winter. "We're headed into another upward trend, but this time will be different in that we have a much more infectious variant. And we're already starting out with hospitalizations above 500," said Jim Hoyer, who leads West Virginia's interagency task force. Governor Jim Justice acknowledged the issue in a recent briefing and said, "Surely we can't put up with this. Surely we can't sit back and say this is the new normal…The only thing we can do is just keep encouraging people to get vaccinated." In addition, he said "more and more people are going to die," when admitting the state has hit a "plateau" with Covid cases.
Montana is Seeing New Cases Climbing
Montana ranked 50 out of 51 for safest states in the WalletHub survey and is seeing new cases daily. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID is currently 258, which is down from 262 earlier this week, but there were 497 new COVID cases reported in Montana on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 bringing the total of active cases in the state to 5,665 according to the Montana Department of Public Health&Human Services.
Wyoming: "Delta Variant as Deadly to Wyoming as Initial Surge"
Wyoming ranks last in for safest states in the WalletHub survey and a Jackson Hole outlet reveals how alarming the situation is. "Looking at the last surge and the delta variant surge, the curves are nearly identical," Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin told the News&Guide. "They're the same height, they're the same slope, the same breadth. But I think there's been a definite change in the public's attitude towards this." COVID is so rampant in Wyoming, that's is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of death in the state. The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports, "Meanwhile, COVID is close to becoming the leading cause of death in Wyoming, surpassing heart disease and cancer. Since September 2020, 1,300 Wyoming residents have died from the virus. That's one out of every 460 residents." Billin told the outlet, "Unfortunately, people are no longer taking the steps to protect the vulnerable, if they ever were. People are just tired and over it."
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.