U.S. COVID Hospitalizations Are Highest in These Five States

The total confirmed coronavirus case count in the U.S. has surpassed 13.7 million, with nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients currently in hospital, as of Wednesday.

Here we look at the five states with the most number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized per one million people, according to data compiled by The Atlantic's The COVID Tracking Project.

"The highest value of hospitalizations per million people we've seen was 968 in New York back in April," The project tweeted on Wednesday.

Case data below is from Johns Hopkins University (as of Wednesday), while population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau (as of July 2019).

South Dakota

  • Currently hospitalized per million: 618
  • Total cases: 80,912
  • Total population: 884,659

The seven-day average of cases in South Dakota has been rising sharply from late August, peaking at 1,458 on November 11, after flattening out for months. The figure declined after then through the rest of November, according to data from JHU.


  • Currently hospitalized per million: 516
  • Total cases: 154,842
  • Total population: 3,080,156

The seven-day average of cases in Nevada has been increasing on a steep incline since early September, after declining from mid-July. The figure peaked at 2,499 on November 25 before declining through the end of November, according to JHU.


  • Currently hospitalized per million: 514
  • Total cases: 344,373
  • Total population: 6,732,219

The seven-day average of cases in Indiana has been rising sharply from late September, after flattening out from late March. The figure peaked at 6,535 on November 17 before declining through the rest of November, according to Johns Hopkins.


  • Currently hospitalized per million: 469
  • Total cases: 130,194
  • Total population: 1,934,408

The seven-day average of cases in Nebraska has been rising on a sharp incline from late September, peaking at 2,391 on November 17, after flattening out since late April, according to JHU.


  • Currently hospitalized per million: 463
  • Total cases: 63,205
  • Total population: 1,068,778

The seven-day average of cases in Montana has been rising sharply since early September, after flattening out from early July. The figure peaked at 1,293 on November 17, according to JHU.

Hospitalization projections

According to 12 forecasts cited by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: "For December 21, the forecasts estimate 6,700 to 30,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day."

It noted on November 25: "Five national forecasts predict a likely increase in the number of new hospitalizations per day over the next four weeks, one forecast predicts a likely decrease, and two forecasts are uncertain about the trend or predict stable numbers."

"State-level forecasts also show a high degree of variability, which results from multiple factors. Hospitalization forecasts use different sources of data for COVID-19 cases or deaths, with different limitations, and make different assumptions about social distancing."

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, by Christmas the country is projected to require nearly 150,000 hospital beds. The daily case count is expected to reach around 833,165 on the same day, with "continued easing of social distancing mandates" and if "mandates are not reimposed."

Texas Houston hospital COVID patient November 2020
Medical staff treating a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on November 14. South Dakota, Indiana, Nevada, Nebraska and Montana are the five states with the most number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in the country. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 63.9 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China.

More than 1.4 million people have died worldwide and more than 41 million have recovered as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the spread of COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

U.S. COVID cases

This graphic, also produced by Statista, shows the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses secured by different countries.

COVID vaccine doses