Welcome to the first official post of Travel-Wise! Everyone needs a vacation, especially in these trying times. So in this post, let’s take a look at the top five states that have emerged from lockdown in the past year with the lowest number of cases out of the entire US:
5. Washington — 5,127 cases per 100,000
Population: 7.6 million
With gorgeous nature views and many outdoorsy activities, why worry about keeping 6 feet away from others when you could potentially spend the whole day miles from the nearest infectious soul? Initially, the first epicenter of covid in the US, Washington, had the highest recorded number of cases of covid at the beginning of 2020 to now one of the leading states with the lowest case count. This was due to the extensive quarantine policy advocated by the state government after working alongside medical experts and willing cooperation from the populace. As of the time of writing, most of the state is currently in phase 3.
4. Maine — 4,312 cases per 100,000
Population: 1.3 million
Famous for its lobster season and coastal town retreats, Maine is a solid choice for a lobster enthusiast looking to make a summer or fall food getaway. With a smaller population and less urban density, Maine could get away with reopening earlier than other states. While Washington was still under strict closure in the early stages (ex. take out only for restaurants, nonessential businesses completely closed, etc.), good case numbers encouraged the state government to allow restaurants to continue staying open with outdoor dining options and outside companies to stay open with limits on their indoor capacity. As of writing, the state is currently in Stage 4.
3. Oregon — 4,177 per 100,000
Population: 4.2 million
Next door to Washington, Oregon is similar to its neighbor state in many respects to nature and outdoor activities, coffee, and beer, just minus the sales tax. The state government started out trying to control the outbreak by declaring a state of emergency and issuing a statewide stay-at-home order with class C misdemeanor charges for violators. But, with vaccinations rolling out, they’ve allowed indoor dining once more and small group outings.
2. Vermont — 3,544 per 100,000
Aside from its cheese, Vermont is also known for its mountains and lakes. It was the state with the lowest number of cases in the US at one point. This was due to multiple factors such as the state’s high rural geography (more space between people), small population, a centralized public health system (also ranked 5th in the country in terms of quality of and access to healthcare), early pandemic efforts to focus on extensive testing at long-term care facilities and group-living facilities, and the rapid implementation of social distancing measures such as closing schools and restaurants, reducing the size of mass gatherings, etc. As of writing, nearly 75% of eligible Vermonters have received at least one dose. The state government has promised to lift any remaining restrictions and mandates should the state reach 80%.
1. Hawaii — 2,247 per 100,000
Population: 1.4 million
Hawaii, the state that currently wears the crown, now has the lowest number of cases out of all the US states. Known for its surfing, scuba diving, volcanoes, tropical nature, etc., it’s no surprise it remains a hot travel destination to many. As a series of islands off the US mainland, Hawaii benefitted from the Pacific Ocean, serving as a deterrent for travelers coming in and out of the state. While other states have experienced a significant increase in cases due to the difficulty in controlling the influx of tourists during holidays, Hawaii has successfully been able to require visiting tourists to self-quarantine for two weeks, a requirement that can only be voided with a negative test within the last 72 hours of landing. Additionally, with Hawaii isolated from the mainland, healthcare assistance and ICU beds are limited. As a result, state leaders prioritized minimizing the spread of COVID and enacted travel restrictions and forced many tourism-related businesses to shut down, driving up unemployment to 14%+. Combined with the warm weather, which encourages people to not stay at home and spread the virus to their loved ones, and the prevalent mask use at 96% of the population before COVID, Hawaii was also culturally set up to minimize the spread.