A note to our readers:  This post has been superseded by new analysis published on March 28.  In addition, the original post contains an error: The original version of estimates for the New York Metropolitan area reported on March 25 included an incorrect estimate of the rate of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population.  The actual reported incidence for that date was 179.2, not 259 City Observatory originally reported.  City Observatory regrets this error, and has adjusted its population aggregation methodology to resolve this problem. Data for New York City are reported as a single entity in the USA Facts database and are not disaggregated by county (borough); Our original tabulations included all cases from all five boroughs but mistakenly excluded population for the boroughs of Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island from the denominator, inflating our reported estimate of the rate per capita.New York, New Orleans and Seattle have the highest incidence of pandemic among large metros.

The full content of our original post is provided here, but readers are directed to the latest information here.

The typical metro is only about 1-2 weeks behind these cities in the progression of the virus.

Yesterday, we presented our first estimates of the incidence of Covid-19 by US metro area.  Today, we’re updating these figures to show the incidence of diagnosed cases per 100,000 population as of March 25, 2020.

Up until now, most data has been available at only the state or county level.  States are too large to accurately capture the the incidence of the pandemic; and counties are often too variable and too small.  Metro areas capture labor markets and commuting sheds, and are defined consistently, making them more appropriate geographic units for judging the spread of the virus.

Among these metros, the incidence of Covid-19 is highest in the New York metropolitan area (260 cases per 100,000 population), New Orleans (106), Seattle (55).  New York’s rate is up from 82 cases per 100,000 3 days ago; New Orleans was 55 and Seattle was 41.

Other large metros with relatively high rates of incidence include:  Detroit (47), Boston (28) Milwaukee (24), San Jose (23) and Nashville (23).

Among metropolitan areas with one million or more population, on March 25, the median metropolitan area had a reported infection rate of about 9 cases per 100,000 population (up from 4 three days ago). For reference, the New York metro had just four cases per 100,000 on March 15, just seven days prior to these estimates.  Seattle had 4 cases per 100,000 on March 9, and New Orleans crossed that threshold on March 14.  At the rate the virus has been spreading, the worst-affected cities are about one to two weeks ahead of typical (median) large metro area in the progression of the virus.

As of March 25, the lowest rates of reported Covid-19 cases per capita among these large US metropolitan areas were in San Antonio, Houston, Riverside and St. Louis, which each had  between 3 and 4 cases per 100,000.  Three days ago, the least affected cities had rates of  1.5 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents.

The following map illustrates the relative number of reported Covid-19 cases per capita among large US metropolitan areas.  Darker red colors indicate metro areas with the highest reported incidence of cases

The table and map rely on published data from state health departments, aggregated by USAFActs.org. Please use caution in interpreting these data. It is likely that in some areas, the number of cases is under-reported due to the lack of available testing capacity, or pressing medical conditions.