- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2020

A quarter of counties housing 80% of the country’s population have met the criteria to be considered coronavirus hotspots, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The CDC identified 818 of 3,142 counties as hotspots from March through July, with more hotspots appearing in the South and West from June to July.

The percentage of counties in the South and West that met hotspot criteria increased from 10% and 13%, respectively, between March and April to 28% and 22%, respectively, between June and July.

Increased identification of community transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, contributed to the rise. However, reporting of outbreaks in long-term care, correctional, food processing and other facilities fell.

“Identification of hotspot counties and understanding how they change over time can help prioritize and target implementation of U.S. public health response activities,” the CDC said in its report.

The median number of days that a county hit hotspot criteria from March 8 to July 15 was 10. The number of counties that met the hotspot threshold peaked at 175 daily in early April, fell and stabilized to around 75 or less each day from mid-April to early June, and then rose again to 179 in early July, according to the study.

The CDC also highlighted regional shifts of hotspot trends over time. From March to April, 40% of Northeastern counties, making up 84% of the region’s population, met hotspot criteria for a day or more, while 8% to 13% of counties in other regions were deemed hotspots. In May, 8% to 11% of counties in all four regions were considered hotspots.

From June to July, 28% of Southern counties comprising 76% of the region’s population, and 22% of Western counties with 86% of the region’s population met hotspot criteria. Meanwhile, 9% to 10% of counties in the Northeast and Midwest, which made up 16% to 44% of the regions’ populations, were considered hotspots.

The share of large metropolitan counties meeting hotspot criteria fluctuated from 97% between March and April to 46% in May and 78% from June to July.

For June to July, 46% counties in medium metropolitan areas met hotspot criteria, compared to 26% between March and April. Counties in metropolitan areas saw a similar trend during the same time frame, jumping to 32% from 13%.

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