These Are the States Hardest Hit by Coronavirus

Some states have already experienced—or are expected to see—deaths reaching well into the thousands.

Anyone who has turned on the nightly news or logged on to an online news site knows that New York currently has the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths. In the Big Apple, as of April 19, the deaths totaled 13,869. While the density of the New York metropolitan area likely explains why it has been the hardest hit, the other states rounding out the top five on the COVID-19 projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) might surprise you.

The IHME forecasts use data from a range of sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), local and national governments, hospital networks and associations, and the Johns Hopkins University data repository. The models are updated on an average of every three days; these numbers were current as of April 17.

In addition to New York, which the IHME projects will see a total of 21,812 deaths, these are the states that are predicted to be the hardest hit by the coronavirus, along with the tally of projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4.

New Jersey

Projected number of COVID-19 deaths: 6,952

New Jersey is home to many commuters who work in the novel coronavirus hot spot of New York City, and Bergen County, which is closest to New York City, has 15 percent of the cases. The IHME projected the Garden State would hit its peak death rate on April 16; as of April 19, the state had seen 4,202 deaths related to COVID-19.

Massachusetts

Projected number of COVID-19 deaths: 3,236

While schools in the Bay State have been closed since March 17, non-essential services were allowed to remain open until March 24, a full week later. Massachusetts also has one of the latest projected peak resource use dates—April 18. Find out when coronavirus is expected to peak in your state.

Michigan

Projected number of COVID-19 deaths: 3,304

As of April 20, Michigan had experienced 2,391 COVID-19 related deaths, 618 in Detroit alone. This is despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s March 13 restriction on mass gatherings to promote social distancing. In addition to “social distancing,” these are the words and phrases about coronavirus everyone should know by now.

Connecticut

Projected number of COVID-19 deaths: 2,732

With a population of 3.6 million, Connecticut is projected to experience one of the highest per capita death rates due to COVID-19 in the United States at 0.15 percent, per the IHME’s data. One of the reasons is its proximity to New York City; the bulk of the cases (41 percent as of April 19) are in Fairfield County, which borders the Empire State and is home to many daily commuters.

The rest of the country

The other states with COVID-19 death tolls expected to reach into the thousands are:

  • Illinois: 2,259
  • Pennsylvania: 1,707
  • Louisiana: 1,685
  • California: 1,658
  • Georgia: 1,369
  • Florida: 1,363

By and large, the most sparsely populated states will fare better during the pandemic. The states with the fewest projected COVID-19 related deaths, per the IHME, are:

  • Montana: 17
  • West Virginia: 22
  • Alaska: 24
  • Hawaii: 38
  • Vermont: 40

Next, read on for 13 ways coronavirus is different than all other pandemics throughout history. For more on this developing situation, including how people are staying safe and sane, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

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Anne Fritz
Anne L. Fritz is senior digital editor at Reader's Digest where she writes and edits mainly travel and pet content, along with shopping guides. She has worked at Woman's Day, Life & Style, Seventeen, EverydayHealth.com, WhattoExpect.com and more. She earned a BA in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University.