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Covid’s Sun-Belt Return Targets Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 12/3/2020 Jonathan Levin

(Bloomberg) -- The latest wave of Covid-19 has inundated the Sun Belt, adding pressure on tourism-dependent cities brutalized by infections and deaths in July and August.

In the past week, Florida’s Miami-Dade County posted a daily average of 71 new cases per 100,000 residents, third most in the nation among counties of at least 1 million residents. It was just behind Salt Lake County, Utah, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which encompasses Cleveland.

The counties including Las Vegas and Phoenix rank fifth and sixth, respectively, according to USAFacts, a nonprofit aggregator of government statistics that’s used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

chart, histogram: Sun Belt Return © Bloomberg Sun Belt Return

Although previous chapters of the pandemic have ravaged specific regions, the latest wave has swept much of the country, initially hitting mostly rural areas and then emerging in many cities.

Average daily deaths, a lagging indicator, have been rising nationally since at least early November and the pace is likely to quicken, based on the record number of people currently hospitalized with the virus.

The U.S. posted an all-time daily high in reported deaths of 2,836 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The numbers had been artificially low due to light staffing over Thanksgiving, and the tally was partially influenced by a catch-up effect. The seven-day average is a more reliable indicator.

Case data have also been influenced by Thanksgiving. The U.S. recorded 205,137 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, near a single-day record, although the seven-day average is about 8% below its peak, Johns Hopkins data show.

According to the Covid Tracking Project:

Massachusetts, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and California posted single-day record cases Wednesday.The worst states by current per-capita Covid-19 hospitalizations are South Dakota, Nevada, Indiana, Illinois and Oklahoma.

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