The health of the economy relies heavily on whether people in the U.S. feel safe to return to work, shopping, and other activities as the nation tucks into its second year of the pandemic. As more people get vaccinated, more states will lift COVID-19-related restrictions.
With only 0.62% of the population fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as of January 20, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is off to a bumpy start. Fortunately, some states, such as Alaska, which has the highest vaccination rate and one of the lowest hospitalization rates in the U.S., have done better to control the pandemic, according to data released from the personal finance website WalletHub.
"The best way to help state economies is to get most people in each state vaccinated, which in turn will create a much safer environment and allow businesses to operate at normal capacity and hire in full force," said Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst.
Figuring out the hot zones
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia by looking at vaccination, testing, hospitalization, death, and transmission rates. To determine the safest states during the pandemic, each rate was scored to total 100 points. The vaccination rate was worth 25 points, the death rate was worth 37.5 points, and the others were worth 12.5 points each.
Overall, the safest state is Alaska, followed by Vermont and Colorado. Meanwhile, Arizona is the most dangerous. Alabama is the second most dangerous, followed by Mississippi. Alaska, West Virginia, and North Dakota have the top three highest vaccination rates, in that order. Alabama is ranked the lowest, followed by Georgia and Nevada, according to the results.
When it comes to death rates, Vermont had the lowest and Alabama had the highest, according to WalletHub.
"In addition to having the highest death rate in the nation in the past week, at over 113 per million, Alabama also has the lowest share of the population age 16 and over who have received at least the first dose of the vaccine," Gonzalez said.
Transmission rate, which estimates the average number of people whom an infected person will transmit SARS-CoV-2, is lowest in West Virginia. Hawaii has the highest transmission rate, according to WalletHub.
"Increasing the number of people vaccinated is essential for getting control of the pandemic," Gonzalez added.