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March 05, 2021

Pennsylvania, New Jersey among least COVID-safe states, analysis finds

The study factored various pandemic-related metrics, including vaccination and transmission rates

Health News COVID-19
COVID-19 safety by state BASTIAAN SLABBERS/For PhillyVoice

Pennsylvania ranked as the 36th safest state in an analysis comparing COVID-19 metrics from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have some of the highest COVID-19 hospitalization and positive test rates in the United States, according to a new analysis.

In an effort to determine the safest states, WalletHub compared all 50 states and Washington, D.C. based on various pandemic-related metrics, including transmission, death and vaccination rates. 

Neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey fared well. 

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Pennsylvania ranked as the 36th safest state, failing to rank higher than 26th in any single metric. Its vaccination rate was among its worst metrics. The state has fully vaccinated 868,149 people and partially vaccinated 1.909 million, state data shows.

New Jersey, which ranked 46th overall, had the highest positive test rate in the country. Its transmission, hospitalization and death rates also were among the worst. But it had a relatively high vaccination rate, ranking 18th. So far, New Jersey has fully vaccinated 788,782 people and partially vaccinated 1.54 million. 

Here's a breakdown of how each state ranked in each metric:

Metric Pennsylvania New Jersey 
 Vaccination Rate 36th18th 
 Positive Test Rate 37th51st 
Hospitalization Rate  32nd48th 
 Death Rate 29th41st 
 Transmission Rate 26th43rd 

The positive test, hospitalization and death rates incorporated data from Feb. 24 to March 2. The vaccination rate is the number of people initiating vaccination compared to the state's eligible population. 

The analysis deemed Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota as the safest states. New York, Georgia and Virginia were the least safe. 

Researcher David F. Merrick, director at the Center for Disaster Risk Policy at Florida State University, urged people to follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Everyone should continue to socially distance and wear masks as recommended by the CDC," Merrick said. "These simple measures will enable our communities to handle the back half of this pandemic as vaccines roll out."

Top 10 safest:

1. Alaska

2. Hawaii

3. North Dakota

4. New Mexico 

5. South Dakota

6. Minnesota

7. Montana

8. Oregon

9. Vermont

10. Iowa

The 10 least safe:

42. Alabama

43. South Carolina

44. Florida

45. Texas

46. New Jersey

47. Delaware

48. District of Columbia

49. New York

50. Georgia

51. Virginia

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