The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the country, and no state has been immune, but with a vaccine rolling out and President Biden signing an executive order on face masks, it seems there's light at the end of the tunnel. Nobody's in the clear yet, but according to a new study from WalletHub, some states are significantly safer than others.
The study, which ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia from one through 51 in order of safeness, revealed some dramatic differences, but also found that Red states are (marginally) safer than Blue states on average.
The safest state from COVID-19 is Alaska, followed by Vermont, Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota. The least safe state is Arizona, with a rating of 8.2 of a possible 100, but Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, and South Carolina also feature in the five least safe states. You can find where your state ranks below.
Comparing key metrics from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, WalletHub based its ranking on five variables:
- Vaccination rate
- Positive testing rate
- Hospitalization rate
- Death rate
- Transmission rate
The metrics are scored on a scale of one through 100 (one being least safe, 100 being safest) and combined to assign an overall score to each state.
Just how safe are you?
While most states lie somewhere in the region of 60 to 45 on the safety scale, Arizona has a score of only 8.2. On the other end, Alaska tops the charts with a super safe 95.43. So what accounts for this disparity?
Coronavirus is in every state, but one of the main ways to tell how safe you are is the transmission rate. If one personal experiences COVID-19 symptoms and immediately isolates themselves, they help in contributing to a lower transmission rate - that is, they pass the virus on to as few people as possible. Measures to reduce transmission are more feasible in some states than others. One deciding factor is industry, because workers are required to show up to a workplace, the odds of one case of coronavirus spreading to many people are far greater.
Many are patiently waiting for their turn to receive a vaccination, but while this is important on an individual level, vaccination won't drive down factors such as the death rate or the hospitalization rate, because this only applies to those who contract the virus. What it can do is drive down transmission, and when enough people are vaccinated, it will prevent the path of the virus from spreading through households and communities. While it's a long way away, the rate of vaccination could well indicate which states will emerge from the pandemic sooner, and which will be left behind.
Hospitalization and death rates speak in general terms to the population of a state, and how safe that population is. Although nobody is safe from severe COVID-19 symptoms, those communities with higher levels of obese, elderly, and vulnerable citizens will typically find these rates to be far higher than young and healthy communities.
While it's interesting to see just how safe your state is from coronavirus, the truth is that nobody is truly safe right now. Regardless of where you live, you should continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay distanced from others whenever you leave the house. Click here to see the full CDC guidance, and if you need to invest, check out where to buy a face mask online here.