Two American states are battling for a title no one really wants. Florida and Arizona are being poised as the potential new COVID-19 epicenter. As new cases surge in both regions, they are both leading as major frontrunners for the title.

A chart published by the New York Times showing the "World's Worst Outbreak" has placed the Sunshine and the Grand Canyon states nearly neck-and-neck in cases per million residents for the past seven days.

Arizona is leading the pack, with 3,300 cases per million residents, with Florida coming up the rear with 2,700. Both are ahead of such countries as Bahrain, which is fourth, and Qatar, which landed in sixth place.

The index is leading to a race of a title that neither wants: the COVID-19 World Epicenter.

"There's Texas and Arizona. We are the epicenter for the Southeast," Dr. Jay Wolfson of the University of South Florida Public Health told WTSP. "There's no question about that."

Over the 4th of July weekend, Florida sailed over the 200,000 case mark, taking it into the country's top three for COVID-19 total cases, behind California and New York. Arizona is also seeing rising totals, with 108,614 cases so far.

While Florida may be "winning" the case per thousand race, Arizona has come in first with the nation's highest positive rate.

According to John Hopkins University, Arizona has a positive test rate of 25.3%, Florida coming in second place, with an 18.7% positive rate. To put it in contrast, New York, the country's former epicenter, had just 1.1% of its test come back positive for the novel coronavirus.

Florida has been lampooned for its perceived lack of state-level response to the pandemic. Mitigation orders such as face masks have been done at the county and city level, with Gov. Ron DeSantis refusing at every turn to mandate them statewide.

While Arizona has pushed back the start of the school year due to the rising numbers, DeSantis ordered schools within the Sunshine State to resume in-person instruction in August, to the dismay of the state's school teachers and students who view the move as risky.


*Left cover photo used for illustrative purposes.

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