The coronavirus has now infected all 006 counties in the United States, according to a new report.
The last county to register a positive case was the smallest in the country: Kalavao County, a remote island enclave in Hawaii created in the 1960s for people with leprosy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The first case of Kalavao was recorded on December 10, after a resident received a positive result from COVID after returning to the county from a trip to Honolulu.
Five leprosy patients who are elderly and considered high-risk still live in Kalavao.
So far, however, the county has managed to avoid further spread, with the man with a positive result immediately alerting authorities and quarantining.
The discovery in Kalavao came just under 1
Since then, the virus has continued to wreak havoc across the country, infecting more than 24 million Americans and killing more than 400,000.
According to the WSJ, data published by John Hopkins shows that COVID-19 has already reached every county in the 48 neighboring countries and Hawaii.
While Alaska has no official counties, its own virus data panel shows cases in all neighborhoods of the country and population censuses.
The last county to register a case is the smallest in the country: Kalavao County (above), a remote island enclave in Hawaii created in the 1960s for people with leprosy.
In 1866, during the reign of Kamehameha V, the Hawaiian legislature passed a law that defined Molokai as a place for a leper colony, where patients who were severely affected by the disease were forced to isolate themselves.
WHAT IS A LEPROZEN KLAV KALAVAO?
In 1866, during the reign of Kamehameha V, the Hawaiian legislature passed a law that defined Molokai as a place for a leprosy colony where patients who were severely affected by leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) could to be quarantined to prevent them from infecting others.
At the time, the disease was little understood: it was thought to be highly contagious and incurable until the advent of antibiotics. The communities inhabited by people with leprosy were under the administration of the health council, which appointed wardens on the island.
At the top, about 1,200 men, women and children were exiled to the enclave.
The Isolation Act passed by Kamehameha V remained in force until 1969, when it was repealed.
Father Damian – or St. Damien of Molokai – a Catholic priest, settled there in 1873.
He cared for the inhabitants of the enclave for 11 years, helping to clothe their ailments, making coffins, digging graves and eating with them before catching the disease himself.
He continued his work despite the infection, but eventually succumbed to the disease on April 15, 1889.
Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. He is considered the spiritual patron of leprosy and exiles.
The day of his death, April 15, is also a minor holiday throughout Hawaii.
Following the end of the insulation law in 1969, the state legislature considered closing the facility altogether. After a public protest, however, they allowed residents who wanted to stay there to do so for life.
Opponents of the closure said that although there were no active cases of leprosy in the colony, many residents were physically marked by the disease to an extent that would make their integration into mainstream society, if not impossible.
Five residents remain in the facility and have an average age of 86.
At the start of the pandemic, the virus first affected large, densely populated cities – such as New York and Los Angeles – before spreading to less populated rural areas months later.
By November, the coronavirus had reached the country’s second-smallest county, Lowing County, Texas, which has a population of just 169.
The following month, the country’s smallest county, Calavao, became the last to register a case of the disease.
The hard-to-reach tiny island enclave of Molokai was founded in 1866 and has housed thousands of leprosy patients – now known as Hansen’s disease – who have been forced into exile.
Father Patrick Kililea, a pastor at St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa, the county’s small town, told the Journal that the enclave’s remote nature has helped keep the virus afloat for about 11 months.
“This is a place of isolation,” he said. “We know the rocks and the ocean have protected us.”
According to Kililea, the county has limited connections with the outside world.
Residents, who are only about 70, are forced to take a plane or climb a path up the county’s towering cliffs if they want to reach other parts of Molokai.
The village also relies on a barge visit once a year for vital supplies, according to the WSJ.
But despite the county’s isolation, Hawaii’s health department has taken steps to seal the settlement, as COVID-19 began growing in mainland American nursing homes early last year.
The state health authorities reportedly limited visits to the county to protect their last five remaining patients with Hansen’s disease, in addition to various other safety measures.
The five patients, who are free to come and go from the county, have a mean age of 86 years. Some of them have serious diseases and are considered high-risk by COVID-19.
Despite measures taken by health officials, the county reported its first case of the virus on December 10th.
The infected person, a resident, apparently picked up the virus while outside the enclave, but found out about their positive case after returning home.
According to the magazine, the patient was asymptomatic. They reportedly took a COVID test in Honolulu, but tested positive when they returned to Kalaupapa County.
Remarkably, the county managed to avoid an outbreak after the infected person and three close contacts in their flight were quarantined after landing.
At the top, about 1,200 men, women and children were exiled to the enclave
Father Damian (left) – or St. Damien of Molokai – a Catholic priest who settled there in 1873. He cared for the inhabitants of the enclave for 11 years, helping to clothe their ailments, make coffins, dig graves and to eat with them before catching the disease yourself
Following the end of the insulation law in 1969, the state legislature considered closing the facility altogether. After a public protest, however, they allowed residents who wanted to stay there to do so for life. There are five people left
A Hawaiian Ministry of Health official called the person a “hero” for quickly reporting the case and tracking quarantine.
A total of 24,551 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Hawaii since the beginning of the pandemic, and 322 people have died. The country currently has the second lowest positive test rate in the country, at 2.4 percent. The lowest is Vermont, with 2.3.
Cases are also shown in each neighborhood and counting area on the coronavirus dashboard in Alaska. The country currently has a positivity test of 3.1 percent, the fourth lowest in the country.
One of the last neighborhoods affected by the virus in Alaska is Skagway, which is home to about 1,000 people but attracts more than a million tourists each year.
With the nearest hospital about an hour away by plane, authorities moved quickly to protect the area from the virus when the pandemic began, realizing that the local outbreak could be catastrophic.
However, the virus finally arrived in mid-October after Mike O’Daniel returned from Anchorage with his wife after an unrelated hospital visit.
One of the last neighborhoods affected by the virus in Alaska is Skagway, in the southeastern part of the state, which is home to about 1,000 people.
O’Daniel told a newspaper that shortly after his return, a number of his family members became ill – including his 93-year-old mother.
Fortunately, his entire family survived, although his brother was temporarily linked to an intensive care unit in Seattle.
Of O’Daniel’s case, 16 other cases of the virus have been reported in Skagway.
The 73-year-old worker at the hardware store said he quickly alerted local officials to his condition.
‘It’s a small town; “Everyone will know about it anyway,” he said. “I would protect my friends right away.”
Preliminary data released on Thursday suggest that 2020 will be the deadliest year in US history.
A record 3,260,397 people died last year, according to public health experts, due to COVID-19, an indirect death from a pandemic and an overdose.
That figure is about 15 percent higher than the 2,835,533 Americans who died in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other deadly years in American history include 1,430,079 deaths in 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic, and the end of World War I; 1,459,544 deaths in 1943, the deadliest year of World War II, and 1,930,082 deaths in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War.
In 2020, 347,341 people in the United States died from COVID-19, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Since then, more than 58,000 people have died from the virus, raising the death toll to more than 406,000 – higher than the number of Americans killed in World War I, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.