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These are the 10 worst coronavirus outbreaks in the US right now

Published Sep 3rd, 2020 2:51PM EDT
Coronavirus school reopenings
Image: Fabian/Adobe

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  • School reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic have been a disaster, as the latest data on the worst outbreaks in the US from The New York Times shows.
  • According to the New York Times, 9 of the 10 worst outbreaks in the US are in college towns.
  • Auburn University in Alabama is currently experiencing the country’s second-worst outbreak.

According to the updated data from The New York Times, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the US has stalled out over the last week or so. After peaking in July at around 66,000 cases per day, the infection rate began to decline near the end of the month and throughout much of August, but on August 23rd, the rate plateaued, and it just so happens that K-12 schools, colleges, and universities all began to reopen around that time.

We’ve seen outbreaks all over the country, from New York to Iowa to Alabama to California, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the parts of the country that are seeing the most significant surges in new cases are mostly college towns. In fact, as Best Life points out, 9 of the 10 cities that are experiencing the worst outbreaks in America have colleges or universities that have reopened and welcomed students back to campus.

The New York Times has been keeping track of the metro areas with the greatest number of positive cases relative to their population for quite some time, but the updated list shows just how disastrous school reopenings have been. Of the top 10 metro areas, these 9 are all home to colleges or universities that have reopened:

Auburn-Opelika, Alabama

  • Auburn University is one of two major public universities in the state of Alabama, and according to the latest data, it is experiencing the second-worst outbreak in the United States with 7.7 per 1,000 people testing positive in the metro area surrounding the school.

Statesboro, Georgia

  • Georgia Southern University makes up a significant portion of the population of Statesboro, and over the last two weeks, 710 have tested positive for COVID-19, which puts the area’s rate just under Auburn’s at 7.4 per 1,000.

Ames, Iowa

  • Iowa actually appears on the list twice, with Ames — the home of Iowa State University — outpacing its neighbor to the east by a hair with 1,143 cases in the last two weeks, tying Statesboro, Georgia with a novel coronavirus infection rate of 7.4 per 1,000.

Iowa City, Iowa

  • Iowa City, the home of the University of Iowa, had significantly more cases over the past two weeks (1,919) than Ames, but with a much larger population, its rate is slightly lower at 7.2 per 1,000 people.

Pullman, Washington

  • Washington state was the epicenter of the pandemic before cases started popping up around the country, but that didn’t stop Washington State University from reopening, and now Pullman has seen 485 new cases over the last two weeks, which is a rate of 6.3 per 1,000.

Oxford, Mississippi

  • Mississippi has been making headlines for months as the state has been designing a new flag to replace the one that incorporated the Confederate battle flag. They will vote on a new flag in November. That’s encouraging news, but the bad news is that Oxford, Mississippi, which is where the University of Mississippi is located, has reported 422 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, good for a rate of 5.2 per 1,000.

Bloomington, Illinois

  • Bloomington, Illinois has been climbing up the list in recent days, reaching the eighth spot 1,197 cases over the last two weeks for a rate of 4.4 per 1,000 as Illinois State University pledges to stay open.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

  • Somehow, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, with a student population of less than 2,600, has helped rocket the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas into the top ten worst outbreaks in America, with 621 positive tests over the last two weeks, which brings the infection rate to 4.3 per 1,000.

Greenville, North Carolina

  • The 28,000+ Pirates of East Carolina University have dragged Greenville, North Carolina into the top ten, with 1,317 new infections over the last two weeks, which is an infection rate of 4.1 per 1,000.

Although we only covered the top ten metro areas, the New York Times list shows the twenty worst outbreaks in the US, and several more are in other big college towns, including Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Whether or not we needed any more evidence that it was virtually impossible to reopen schools without causing new outbreaks, we now have it, and the trend will likely continue in the weeks ahead.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.