Which States Are Most Worried by the Pandemic?

Does thinking about the pandemic make you anxious? Depending on where you live, people may be more or less concerned about COVID-19 on a daily basis. But does our worry help us?

Using data from our State of Safety survey conducted in September 2020, we break down the concern for the pandemic by state. We then compare that “worry rank” to the CDC’s number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccines per 100,000 people in each state (as of February 2021).

How concerned about the pandemic is your state? And how does that level of worry relate to  COVID numbers? You can spot your state on the map below, or jump down to the full data set.

According to our survey results, only 62% of the country worries about the pandemic daily. However, some places are far more worried than others.

States most concerned by the pandemic

Worry rank
State
Percent of population that worries daily
1Hawaii80%
2California77%
3New York76%
4Florida75%
5Georgia74%
6Rhode Island73%
7Arkansas72%
8Wisconsin70%
8Texas70%
8New Jersey70%
8Missouri70%

States least concerned by the pandemic

Worry rank
State
Percent of population that worries daily
50Wyoming44%
49Alaska47%
48North Dakota48%
46Montana49%
46Oklahoma49%
45Washington50%
43Utah53%
43Maine53%
42Idaho54%
41South Carolina55%

The percentage of the population of each state worrying about the pandemic on a daily basis ranges from 44% to 80%, where Wyomingites worry about the pandemic nearly half as much as Hawaiians.

But how does each state’s concern compare to rates for cases, deaths, and vaccines?

Notepad
COVID-19 stats at a glance
  • Highest case rates: North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Tennessee, Arizona
  • Highest death rate: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Arizona
  • The most vaccines per 100,000: Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Dakota
  • The United States has a national average of 8,415 cases per 100,000 people, with 149 deaths per 100,000.

See the full tables below for more information.

Key Takeaways

  • Cases: The amount of worry each state had in September isn’t necessarily reflected in the rate of cases they had in February (e.g. a given state that was more worried didn’t necessarily see lower case rates, like Rhode Island). We found no significant correlation between worry and cases, possibly suggesting that the rate of cases was neither helped nor hurt by the level of worry in each state.
  • Deaths: Compared to other data points, the rate of deaths seemed to correlate the most to worry. The states with the lowest death rates also exhibited less worry. However, some low-concern states had high death rates, and some states with high death rates still showed high levels of concern.
  • Vaccines: We would expect that a population with more concern would receive more vaccines. Yet, in general, states with less concern also received more vaccines per capita, and more-concerned states received fewer vaccines.

Does more concern lead to lower case rates?

The amount of worry each state had in September doesn’t necessarily correlate with the rate of cases they had in February. The top 10 states for high case rates ranged in concern from 48% of the population to 73% worry.

States with high case rates show mixed concern

States with the higher case rates weren’t necessarily more concerned. And states with high concern didn’t necessarily have the highest or lowest case rates either. 

A higher case rank indicates more cases per capita.

State
Cases per 100,000
Case rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry Rank
North Dakota13,032148%48
South Dakota12,582256%39
Rhode Island11,624373%6
Utah11,439453%43
Tennessee11,204563%23
Arizona11,100667%14
Oklahoma10,666749%46
Iowa10,543860%29
Wisconsin10,515970%8
Arkansas10,4551072%7

States with lower case rates also show mixed concern

Some states that had more worry, like Hawaii and Virginia, had lower case rates. But many states with the lowest case rates also exhibited lower amounts of worry, with many of the lowest case rates appearing in states that showed the least concern.

A lower case rank indicates fewer cases per capita.

State
Cases per 100,000
Case rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry Rank
Hawaii1,8625080%1
Vermont2,3234959%32
Maine3,2434853%43
Oregon3,6234757%38
Washington4,3944650%45
New Hampshire5,3994566%18
Maryland6,2354464%21
Michigan6,3714358%35
Virginia6,6234269%12
Pennsylvania7,1364160%29

Does more concern lead to lower death rates?

Worrying might cause more people to take more precautions, but according to the death rates, it had little effect on each state’s numbers. And some states that worried less also saw lower death rates.

States with lower death rates have mixed concern

States with higher worry ranks, like New Jersey, Rhode Island, Arizona, and Connecticut, also had high death rates despite their high level of concern.

However, states with less concern, like North Dakota, Louisiana, and South Dakota, also had high death rates.

A higher death rank indicates more deaths per capita.

State
Deaths per 100,000
Death rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry rank
New Jersey257170%8
Massachusetts228266%18
Rhode Island224373%6
Mississippi220461%26
Arizona213567%14
Connecticut211667%14
South Dakota210756%39
Louisiana203859%32
Alabama195963%23
North Dakota1881048%48

States with the lowest death rates have the lowest concern

More than other data points, low death rates correlate with low concern. States like Alaska have  low death rates despite being one of the least-worried states. Maine, Oregon, Utah, and Washington all had lower amounts of worry accompanied by lower death rates.

As an exception, Hawaii was the most-concerned with the pandemic, but had the lowest death rate. (So did their concern lead to fewer deaths? We’ve seen that Hawaii shows more concern for crime-related issues than any other state.) Virginia was the twelfth-most worried and also had a low death rate.

A lower death rank indicates fewer deaths per capita.

State
Deaths per 100,000
Death rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry rank
Hawaii305080%1
Vermont314959%32
Alaska394847%49
Maine484753%43
Oregon514657%38
Utah574553%43
Washington634450%45
New Hampshire844366%18
Virginia874269%12
Kentucky994161%26

Did states with more concern get more vaccines per capita?

More vaccines per capita went to the states with the least amount of worry, which seems counterintuitive. We would expect the vaccine response to match a higher level of concern, but this was not the case. 

The most vaccines per capita are in the states with the least amount of worry

Alaska had the most vaccines but the lowest levels of worry. New Mexico, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oklahoma all had lower amounts of concern but higher numbers of vaccines per capita. (Is it possible that these states had confidence in the arrival of vaccines?)

A higher case rank indicates more vaccines per capita.

State
Vaccines per 100,000
Vaccine rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry rank
Alaska32,797147%49
New Mexico29,211256%39
South Dakota26,816356%39
West Virginia26,261460%29
North Dakota25,795548%48
Connecticut25,044667%14
Hawaii23,561780%1
Wyoming23,527844%50
Vermont23,091959%32
Oklahoma22,9111049%46

Meanwhile, states with more worry (except for Hawaii) did not receive higher numbers of vaccines per capita.

States with the least vaccines per capita are some of the most-worried

Texas received the least vaccines per capita but was the eighth-most worried about the pandemic. Other states with a higher level of worry also received fewer vaccines, like Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri.

A lower vaccine rank indicates fewer vaccines per capita

State
Vaccines per 100,000
Vaccine rank
Percent of population that worries daily
Worry rank
Texas16,5555070%8
Alabama16,6244963%23
Tennessee16,6914863%23
Mississippi16,9904761%26
Georgia17,7114674%5
Kansas17,7594558%35
Arkansas17,9004472%7
Missouri18,1014370%8
South Carolina18,2794255%41
Pennsylvania18,5994160%29

Some states with lower amounts of worry also received fewer vaccines, like Kansas and South Carolina.

COVID-19 worry and statistics by state

To find your state’s level of worry and COVID-19 numbers, see our full data set below.

State
Percent of population that worries on a daily basis
Worry rank
Cases per 100,000
Case rank
Deaths per 100,000
Death rank
Vaccines per 100,000
Vaccine rank
United States62%8,415149
Hawaii80%11,86250305023,5617
California77%28,711271243219,55928
New York76%38,092331602019,39332
Florida75%48,542301392720,51419
Georgia74%59,282201572317,71146
Rhode Island73%611,6243224319,98024
Arkansas72%710,455101771317,90044
Missouri70%87,745361253118,10143
New Jersey70%88,62929257119,80426
Texas70%88,926241422516,55550
Wisconsin70%810,51591183321,63414
Virginia69%126,62342874220,68918
Nebraska68%1310,290111053720,30421
Connecticut67%147,66037211625,0446
Illinois67%149,268211771419,06636
Nevada67%149,447181582219,42831
Arizona67%1411,1006213520,96216
New Hampshire66%185,39945844320,17123
Massachusetts66%187,97335228221,76413
Ohio65%208,160321432419,06735
Maryland64%216,235441272818,73240
Indiana64%219,737161831219,29333
Minnesota63%238,494311153420,75117
Alabama63%239,92913195916,62449
Tennessee63%2311,20451631716,69148
Delaware61%268,702281402619,16534
Kentucky61%268,88625994119,05838
Mississippi61%269,77415220416,99047
Pennsylvania60%297,136411841118,59941
West Virginia60%297,232401262926,2614
Iowa60%2910,54381691619,49030
Vermont59%3223,2349314923,0919
North Carolina59%328,034341043820,19622
Louisiana59%329,12423203819,51829
Michigan58%356,371431631819,88125
Colorado58%357,304391024021,41915
Kansas58%359,983121582117,75945
Oregon57%383,62347514620,50820
New Mexico56%398,717261721529,2112
South Dakota56%3912,5822210726,8163
South Carolina55%419,792141611918,27942
Idaho54%429,465171023919,05039
Maine53%433,24348484722,27512
Utah53%4311,4394574519,06037
Washington50%454,39446634419,61427
Montana49%469,242221253022,73811
Oklahoma49%4610,66671063622,91110
North Dakota48%4813,03211881025,7955
Alaska47%497,54538394832,7971
Wyoming44%509,295191143523,5278

Are you stressed about the pandemic?

Excessive worrying can hurt us, and with the pandemic and mixed-messaging from the media and government, it’s hard to say how much we should or shouldn’t worry.

It’s unlikely that less concern yielded better results, but our survey shows that the amount of worry we have isn’t always reflected by case rates or death rates. And, from these results, it is not clear that worrying helped or hurt us.

As the country continues dealing with the coronavirus, we recommend sticking to CDC health guidelines

For information and tips on how you can stay safe during (and after) the pandemic, check out our collection of resources:

Methodology

Our State of Safety survey asked users to rate their safety concerns on a scale of one to seven, with one being the least concerned or affected and seven being most concerned or affected. Each state is ranked based on the percentage of respondents who answered in the higher range from five to seven. This survey was conducted in September 2020.

All case rates, death rates, and vaccine rates were obtained from the CDC’s “United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State'' data tracker. Our report was generated on February 23, 2021 and contains data ranging from January 1, 2020 to February 23, 2021.

Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
Trevor’s written about your money, your life topics for over six years. His work has been featured on Forbes, RealSimple, USA Today, MSN, BusinessInsider, Entrepreneur, PCMag, and CNN. When he’s not researching and writing, you can find him around Salt Lake City, Utah, snapping photos of mountains and architecture or seeking out some good tunes and friendly faces.

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