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COVID-19: Monroe, LA Metro Area Among the Most Dangerous in America



MONROE, La. – The U.S. reported over 64,000 new cases of coronavirus on Feb. 17, bringing the total count to more than 27,400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 470,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise, albeit at a slowing rate. In the past week, there were an average of 27.8 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — a decrease from the week prior, when there were an average of 39 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While new data shows that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is high in almost every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks and superspreader events. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between different neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

In the 50 largest metro areas, the incidence of COVID-19 grew at an average rate of 29.4 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 7.1% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Monroe, LA metro area consists of Ouachita Parish, Morehouse Parish, and Union Parish. As of Feb. 17, there were 11,017.8 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 Monroe residents, the 47th highest rate of all 383 metro areas with available data. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 8,511.6 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

The incidence of coronavirus cases depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring parishes. Within the Monroe metro area, Ouachita Parish has the highest incidence of COVID-19 cases. As of Feb. 17, there were 11,263.2 cases per 100,000 residents in Ouachita Parish, the most of any county in Monroe, yet not too far from the county with the lowest incidence. In Union Parish, there were 10,131.3 cases per 100,000 residents — the least of any county in Monroe.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and parish governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In the Monroe metro area, unemployment peaked at 12.8% in Apr-20. As of November 2020, the metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.1%.

To determine how the incidence of COVID-19 in the Monroe, LA metro area compares to the rest of the country, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked metro areas based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data from the parish level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.