The three major urban centers in the United States where the coronavirus is spreading the fastest right now have something in common: they are major hot-weather tourist destinations.
Miami-Dade County, Florida; Honolulu County, Hawaii; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, are all averaging at least 85 new cases per day per 100,000 people, with test positivity rates above 20%, according to a New York Times database. In contrast, the country as a whole averages 34 new reported cases per day per 100,000 people, with a positivity rate of 13%.
As of Wednesday, new confirmed cases in the United States were roughly flat at around 110,000 a day on average recently, according to a New York Times database, after falling from below 30,000 a few months ago. And these are just the reported cases; the widespread use of home testing means many positive test results never enter official tallies, experts say, and many people with mild or no symptoms may never be tested at all.
“Much of the United States is experiencing summer weather, but COVID-19 cases are increasing,” said Dr. Sandra Albrecht, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. “So I wouldn’t expect this model to be any different for hot weather destinations.”
The only places in the country with recent numbers higher than these three urban centers are small communities in Puerto Rico or Hawaii and a few isolated rural counties elsewhere.
Some US regions that were hit early by the latest surge, such as the Northeast, have shown signs of improvement lately. But Miami-Dade has steadily worsened since early April, with its daily average of new cases increasing more than tenfold, hospitalizations more than tripling and deaths rising.
The CDC now considers it, along with much of Florida, a high-virus area where additional precautions are recommended, including wearing masks on public transportation and in indoor public spaces.
Dr Mary Jo Trepka, who heads Florida International University’s department of epidemiology, pointed to several factors that could be behind the outbreak, including herds of tourists during spring break, large recent events like the Miami Grand Prix race and growing public apathy about the pandemic.
“I think people don’t take precautions like they used to,” Trepka said. “People were masking up more here in the county, and we’re seeing less of it. People pay less attention because they are tired.
©2022 The New York Times Corporation.