See the spread of the virus and the latest number of total cases in your state

By Julie Mazziotta and Alexander Kennedy
Updated February 16, 2021 04:57 PM

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When the first U.S. case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, was confirmed on Jan. 21, it appeared to be contained — the patient was a man living near Seattle who had recently returned from Wuhan, China and immediately isolated himself, and the local health department had conducted contact tracing to make sure that anyone he had encountered was now quarantining at home.

But as more people returned to the U.S. from China, and then Italy, the site of the second major outbreak, the number of cases started to tick upwards. And due to the nature of the virus — which is highly contagious but can present without symptoms — it began to spread in communities where there were no known cases and no testing measures in place.

From there, the number of cases soared — up to 1,000 by March 26, to 1 million by April 28, 3 million by July 8, 3.5 million by July 17, 5.2 million by August 13 and 7 million by September 25. Cases went up by 2 million over the month of October, and over the four weeks of November, they increased by more than 4.3 million. December and January have only gotten worse, with the U.S. repeatedly breaking its record for most new cases in a single day. The current record is from Jan. 8, when the U.S. reported a stunning 300,594 new infections, according to The New York Times.

February has brought hopeful progress, as cases finally started to decline for the first time in more than three months and by mid-month the 7-day average for daily infections was around 85,000. But Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts have warned Americans not to become "complacent," especially with three faster-spreading strains now circulating in the country.

After the holiday surge, deaths and hospitalizations were also higher than ever. On Jan. 12, at least 4,406 Americans died, the most in a single day of the entire pandemic, more than even April, when safety precautions like mask mandates and social distancing rules were not in place. January was the deadliest month of the entire pandemic, with more than 95,245 deaths. On Jan. 19, the death toll surpassed 400,000, and at the beginning of February it surpassed 450,000.

As of Feb. 15 there are 65,445 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The soaring case numbers can be seen in the above graphic, which shows how the virus circulated through the country over the last few months. Each state pops up when they have identified their first case of COVID-19, and then shows, day by day, how their number of cases grows.

The color of the circles also shows the percentage of the population that has tested positive and the inner black dots represent those who have died.

The graphic can also be sorted by three different measures — the number of cases, the number of deaths and the percentage of cases in relation to the state’s population.

Most states transitioned out of stay-at-home orders at the end of May out of pressure to salvage the economy, despite warnings from health experts that if businesses begin to reopen without safety measures in place, such as testing and contact tracing, they risk continued outbreaks. Those warnings came to life in the last two months, with soaring case numbers across the country and a growing death toll. There were over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. for four straight days between July 21 and 24.

The graphic will continue to update each day with new cases, and states may shuffle places if their cases increase.

(SOURCES: COVID-19 statistics are from The New York Times; population estimates are from U.S. Census Data)

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.