While Florida, Texas, Arizona and California experience dramatic upticks in their COVID-19 numbers, the northeast — specifically the six New England states — have experienced relative success in fighting the pandemic. Massachusetts, one of the first hit and least prepared, has managed to tamp down what could have been much worse. Vermont continues to lead the country in its response.
While New England has fared well compared to the rest of the country, there are clear distinctions between each state in its response to COVID-19. Here are the six New England states, ranked based on their COVID-19 numbers and response.
By both physical and social proximity, Massachusetts was hit hard early on. It charted a similar path to New York, peaking in late April with just over 3,000 new cases daily. The state eventually got it under control, seeing a consistent decline from early May to July, but the early numbers can’t be ignored.
Massachusetts was the most prepared state in the nation for a pandemic, ranked by hospital beds, active physicians and uninsured residents, but suffered from being the site of an epidemic early. As a result, the state saw a high cases-per-100,000 rate. 8,580 people have died from COVID-19 in the state.
Connecticut has taken a hard line in restricting travel from 34 states, but was also hit hard as a product of its proximity to New York — the site of the first epidemic in the US. The state saw a proportional outbreak to that of Massachusetts, but is closer to New York and seemed to avoid the larger issues that Massachusetts struggled with.
4) Rhode Island
Rhode Island has struggled with its per-capita rate of COVID-19, soaring higher than Massachusetts for the highest number of cases per 100,000 in New England.
At the same, RI had the most aggressive response of any New England state in combating the virus, and eventually got its numbers under control. However, the early failures of the epidemic in Rhode Island can’t be ignored.
3) New Hampshire
The Granite State has seen only 479 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, nearly four times less than that of neighboring Massachusetts. New Hampshire is helped by geographical distance from New York and other higher-risk states. Despite an early deficit in testing, the state surpassed the target rate last month and is currently close to the national goal.
However, governor Chris Sununu has largely kept his hands off of issuing a state-wide mask mandate and has punted to local authorities on plans to return to school.
Maine, like Vermont and New Hampshire, has the benefit of fewer urban communities and lower population density. Maine is second in the nation in testing, second only to Vermont, and has only had 121 deaths total from COVID-19.
Vermont is not just the best state in New England for its COVID-19 response — it is the best in the entire country. The state’s last recorded death from COVID-19 came on June 18, the longest any state has gone without a death from the virus.
Vermont’s per-capita rate of positive tests is the lowest in the nation — excluding Hawaii — and it has more than tripled its testing target. As such, only one percent of Vermonters are testing positive for COVID-19.
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For any state — New England states included — the fight against COVID-19 is not finished. There is still work that has to be done before life can return to normal. But it is never too early to evaluate the performance of each New England state and learn from the best regional responses to the pandemic.
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