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When the first U.S. case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, was confirmed on Jan. 21, it appeared to be contained — the patient was a man living near Seattle who had recently returned from Wuhan, China and immediately isolated himself, and the local health department had conducted contact tracing to make sure that anyone he had encountered was now quarantining at home.
But as more people returned to the U.S. from China, and then Italy, the site of the second major outbreak, the number of cases started to tick upwards. And due to the nature of the virus — which is highly contagious but can present without symptoms for many people — it began to spread in communities where there were no known cases and no testing measures in place.
From there, the number of cases soared — up to 1,000 by March 26, and to 1 million by April 28.
That spread can be seen in the above graphic, which shows how the virus circulated through the country over the last few months. Each state pops up when they have identified their first case of COVID-19, and then shows, day by day, how their number of cases grows.
The color of the circles also shows the percentage of the population that has tested positive and the inner black dots represent those who have died. New York and New Jersey, the two hardest-hit states, clearly stand out.
The graphic can also be sorted by three different measures — the number of cases, the number of deaths and the percentage of cases in relation to the state’s population. This highlights how some states, like California, have been able to test for COVID-19 at a high rate, yet keep the number of deaths low.
Most states are now transitioning out of stay-at-home orders, and health experts have warned that if businesses begin to reopen without safety measures in place, such as testing and contact tracing, they risk a second wave of outbreaks. The graphic will continue to update each day with new cases, and states may shuffle places if their cases increase.
(SOURCES: COVID-19 statistics are from The New York Times; population estimates are from U.S. Census Data)
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