COVID-19: States Near Colorado Where the Virus Is Rising

The Four Corners Monument, where the states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet.
The Four Corners Monument, where the states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet. YouTube
At a June 9 press conference, Governor Jared Polis expressed concern about rising COVID-19 curves in two neighboring states, Arizona and Utah. "It just shows how tenuous our progress is," he said.

Turns out Arizona and Utah aren't the only states that should worry Polis. A freshly updated report reveals that while Colorado isn't completely surrounded by states with spiking data, several of those in the region, including a number of places that typically send tourists and transplants this way, have figures headed in the wrong direction.

The information is drawn from the Coronavirus Research Center of Johns Hopkins University, which has become a trusted national source for tracking the disease and includes a page devoted to new-case trends in all fifty states.

Thumbnails show a five-day moving average of new cases per day in each state; the graphics are color-coded in a way that makes interpretation a snap. "The greener the background, the bigger the downward trend of new cases in this state," the key explains. "The redder the background, the bigger the upward trend of new cases in this state."

Because of Colorado's large area and simple rectangular shape, it has plenty of bordering states: seven in all, including Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, which come together at the Four Corners Monument seen above, plus Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. In the collage below, we've also included Texas, which is separated from Colorado by the narrow strip of land known as the Oklahoma panhandle.

Nebraska and Kansas, which have frequently been criticized for risky responses to the pandemic, are actually in positive territory at present. Wyoming, which was also knocked for its approach to the novel coronavirus, is in a more neutral position.

Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas all show indications of increases, but not nearly at the level of Arizona and Utah, which are among the states trending upward most aggressively.

Even those states have bad days and good, however. A more detailed look at the Arizona curve shows a peak on June 6, after which the line dips:

Other states that Johns Hopkins puts in the red include several whose reopening protocols have been widely pilloried by public-health officials, such as Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee. Also doing poorly is Michigan, the birthplace of Operation Gridlock protests such as the one that took place in Denver circa April.

Also in the red roundup are three Western states — California, Nevada and Oregon — in easy traveling range of Colorado.

Here are those curves:
Colorado's curve is flattening as hoped, but as Polis has said on numerous occasions, the disease doesn't respect borders — and there's no shortage of the virus just past ours.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts