With states' reopening progress dependent on public health, WalletHub today released updated rankings for the States with the Biggest Health Improvements During COVID-19.
In order to determine where Americans' health is recovering or worsening the most from the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus where reopening efforts can accelerate, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics. Those include the COVID-19 death rate, hospitalization rate and the rate at which people test positive. This report focuses on the latest developments in each state rather than which states have been hit the hardest throughout the pandemic. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A.
|1. Hawaii||42. Maryland|
|2. West Virginia||43. Florida|
|3. Alaska||44. New Mexico|
|4. Maine||45. Illinois|
|5. Vermont||46. Indiana|
|6. Montana||47. Alabama|
|7. Wyoming||48. Louisiana|
|8. New York||49. Arkansas|
|9. Oklahoma||50. Georgia|
|10. Michigan||51. Arizona|
To view the full report and your state's rank, please visit:
If states see spikes in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, should they increase restrictions?
"States should increase restrictions if they start to see spikes in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, but they should not respond with more lockdowns," said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. "In response to spikes, states should enforce measures like mandatory mask wearing, temperature checks before entering crowded indoor places like grocery stores, COVID-19 tests before entering airports and stricter occupancy limits indoors. While people may find increased safety measures to be inconvenient during the reopening process, we will not be able to make any significant progress without them."
Is it possible to fully reopen the economy before we develop a vaccine for COVID-19?
"It is possible to fully reopen the economy before we have a coronavirus vaccine, but it will take careful planning. The most important condition for a safe reopening is to pass laws that mandate wearing masks, keeping six-foot distances and other important social distancing measures while in public. Guidelines and suggestions have not been effective enough so far," said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. "If residents know that all people in a state, or at least the vast majority, are taking precautions, they will be more comfortable going out to support businesses."
How does the health of a state's residents during the pandemic affect economic trends in that state?
"By observing the rates of infection and death from COVID-19 in a state, we can get a better idea of when the state will be capable of moving to the next phase of reopening, as well as when its residents will be comfortable resuming their pre-COVID-19 activities. Consumer confidence is key to an economic rebound," said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. "States must consider the financial benefits of reopening against the risks to residents' lives. We accept a certain level of risk with any potentially hazardous activity, such as driving a car or playing sports, but only if the rewards outweigh that risk. If a state has high infection rates and death rates from COVID-19, the economic benefits of reopening may not outweigh the dangers."
Why does Hawaii have the biggest health improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic?
"Hawaii is ranked as having the biggest health improvement in recent weeks because the state's COVID-19 death rate for the latest week was zero, and there was only a very slight increase in the number of people who tested positive for the virus," said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. "People with COVID-19 in Hawaii have the lowest expected rates of transmission to other people, too."
Why does Arizona have the smallest health improvement during the coronavirus pandemic?
"Arizona has seen the smallest health improvement in recent weeks because people with COVID-19 in the state have the fourth highest expected rate of transmitting the disease to others, which has led to some of the largest increases in the country of people testing positive for COVID-19 and dying from the disease," said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.