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Louisiana has a higher rate of COVID-19 infections than any country in the world

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH

Louisiana has become a national coronavirus hotspot in this wave of the pandemic, with soaring case rates and an “exponential” surge in hospitalizations in recent weeks.

The average daily case count in Louisiana is even higher than that of any country in the world, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said on CNN today.

“If Louisiana were a country, it would have the highest rate of [COVID-19] infections in the world,” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The state is currently experiencing an average of 89 cases per 100,000 residents per day, according to the New York Times.

The only country seeing more cases per capita is Fiji, an island nation with less than 900,000 residents. Fiji has an average of 117 cases per 100,000 residents per day, but Louisiana has a much higher daily total when population is factored out.

Osterholm told Insider he only accounted for countries with populations of 1 million or more, since smaller countries “could have sky high rates with even just 20-30 cases.”

In fact, the territory of Gibraltar technically has the third highest case rate in the world, with just 26 daily cases and 33,701 total residents.

When ruling out the tiniest countries, Cuba and Georgia (the country) have the second and third highest rates of COVID-19 infections this week.

If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth, with an average of 74 cases per 100,000 residents per day. Arkansas has the fifth-highest infection rate worldwide, with 62 daily cases per 100,000 people.

The Delta variant is driving a surge primarily in states with low vaccination rates, which for the most part are heavily Republican and clustered in the southern US.

Fortunately, vaccination rates have started to tick up. Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas have had some of the highest new vaccination rates in recent weeks to stem the rising rates of COVID-19.

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