Coronavirus cases climb in rural US cities popular with tourists

While major cities across the United States are becoming coronavirus hotspots, data shows the fast-spreading bug is also starting to take a toll on rural areas, particularly those popular with tourists.

New York State’s 52,318 cases of the COVID-19 account for about 47% of the 112,468 cases confirmed across the country so far, with New York City the epicenter of the disease at the moment.

But while the rapidly rising number of cases in Los Angeles and New Orleans has drawn much attention, the virus is also spreading exponentially in cities like Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis. At the same time, some rural counties in Georgia, Colorado, Utah and Idaho are recording some of the highest rates per capita in the nation, threatening to overwhelm local hospitals unprepared for the onslaught, USA Today reported.

The city opened a drive-through testing facility on Saturday, and Mayor Mike Duggan said he expects the toll to mount. “The numbers are going to get a lot worse because now we’re testing,” he said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Chicago’s iconic lakefront and other high-profile public areas closed off and said the stay at home order issued by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker realistically will extend “deep into April,” the Chicago Tribune reported. There are now 2,239 cases in Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located, and 20 deaths, including a Chicago child.

As in New York City’s Javits Center, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to convert the McCormick Place convention center into a 3,000-bed makeshift hospital.

Missouri saw a 600% jump in virus cases this week, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, the largest increase in the country on a statewide basis. The lack of widespread testing means that the number of people who have the virus is a lot higher than the 709 confirmed cases. The state has reported 9 deaths.

But it’s not just big cities and their suburbs that are seeing the virus spread rapidly.

Kansas will be the latest state under a stay-at-home order on Monday. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly imposed the statewide order Saturday in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. “We’re simply not ready for what we anticipate will be the peak of this pandemic,” she said. The state has confirmed 219 cases in 31 counties, with four deaths so far, but the governor said to expect about 900 positive cases by the end of the week, according to the Kansas City Star, and state officials said the virus is likely present even in counties that haven’t reported cases.

Rural counties in Colorado, Utah and Idaho are also reporting some of the highest rates of coronavirus cases per capita in the nation, threatening to overwhelm local hospitals.

Four counties – Blaine County, Idaho; Summit County, Utah; and Eagle County and Gunnison County, Colorado – lead the nation in per capita rates of confirmed cases outside New York and Louisiana, according to a USA Today analysis.

Though rural, the areas are all affluent, mountain-ringed ski and hiking hamlets that see millions of visitors each year.

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