Complicating the COVID-19 story from the beginning has been the variation in access to test kits and the share of individuals tested. As symptoms of COVID-19 mimic those of cold and flu, we’re confident that many cases go unreported, thus any conclusions we might draw about the rate of infection must be treated with skepticism. The rate of testing is probably higher in communities with more confirmed cases, as well.
Hotspots: New York City, Detroit, Seattle
That caveat aside, the number of confirmed cases in the New York City metro area is not only the highest in the nation, but calculated as a rate, New York City and its suburban counties—Westchester County, the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk, and New Jersey counties Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Union and Middlesex—collectively top of the list of large counties and cities nationwide.
Detroit’s Wayne County and adjacent Oakland County also appear near the top, along with Seattle’s King and Snohomish counties. One city not usually listed as a COVID-19 hotspot is Indianapolis (Marion County) with the 20th-highest rate among cities/counties with population over 5oo,000.
The variation in deaths per million population is also significant, although the same communities—New York City, Detroit and Seattle metros—have suffered the highest mortality rates.
Upstate New York counties, while hardly untouched, have a much lower rate of infection than counties in the New York City metro area. Monroe County (Rochester) reports 27 cases per 100,000 population; Onondaga County (Syracuse) reports 28; Erie County (Buffalo) is slightly higher at 38.
Eleven counties have reported deaths from COVID-19. Monroe and Erie have experienced 7 deaths per million population. Onondaga County has had zero.
Kent Gardner is Rochester Beacon opinion editor. All Rochester Beacon coronavirus articles are collected here.
My observations make me believe that in Monroe county (and by extension many of upstate NY counties) the actual rate of infection is much higher than is reported. I personally am only aware of three people who based on their symptoms very likely have the virus. In two cases they were told they couldn’t be tested (one person was told by their doctor’s office not to come in for fear of infecting others, one by a testing site that after waiting 4 hours said they wouldn’t test him because his temperature was no longer 102+ degrees); the third person has recently returned from Florida and is staying at home. None of these symptomatic cases is in the database. And because a large % of infected people never show any symptoms (possibly 25-50%), we will need much more extensive testing to understand the prevalence of the virus here.
Spreadsheet is available upon request. I’ll update as additional data becomes available. [email protected]