Stephen Jorgensen-Murray has created an astonishing visualisation of the catastrophic acceleration of Covid-19 infections in the US, which we build on here with his permission. Applying the threshold set by the German government for the triggering of local lockdowns – 50 cases per 100,000 residents in a week – to various countries, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy and the US, gives us a snapshot into quite how disastrous the US’s outbreak is compared to that of other Western countries. Not all of these administrative units are exactly equivalent, though they do give an indication of where the worst outbreaks are on a local level.
First let’s take a look at Germany, where just a single district, surrounding the city of Gütersloh in the west of the country, is currently in lockdown, after exceeding the threshold with 76 cases per 100,000 residents.
Moving across the North Sea to the UK, we see that there are a few more areas in Great Britain that are currently past the 50-cases limit, including Leicester, which has a rate of 140 infections per 100,000 and is as of this week under a local lockdown. Several more areas with high infection rates are at risk of further localised restrictions, including Merthyr Tydfil, where a rate of 177 infections has been linked to a cluster at a meat-packing plant.
There are no areas in mainland France that cross the limit. Only in the overseas territory of French Guiana, which borders Brazil, is the outbreak substantially worse, at 427 cases per 100,000.
Italy, at one point the worst-affected country in the world, has recovered so well that there are no areas with infection rates that pass the German threshold.
But cross the Atlantic and take a look at the US, and the outbreak is off the scale. There are 1,094 areas, collectively home to about 52 per cent of the US population, that exceed the 50-cases threshold. Almost the entire territory of Florida is shaded red. The worst affected area is East Carroll Parish, in Louisiana, where the rate of infection is 1,210 per 100,000 people.
In the US, there are now 1,094 Güterslohs and Leicesters. And with the daily rate of confirmed infections among Americans now topping 50,000, the highest ever, there are about to be a lot more.