Virus hot spots in south poised for disproportionate suffering

The models POLITICO examined could still change. Public health experts can’t account for how well people will follow social distancing measures, how many beds and ventilators a governor can acquire — or just plain luck.

But the states that many experts are most concerned with are the ones that have been slow to clamp down on travel and nonessential businesses.

“That’s alarming and scary because we know nobody is immune,” said Ali Mokdad, a health metrics expert at the University of Washington whose modeling has informed White House decisions and shows the peak of the pandemic in Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, among others, is still weeks away.

With many Southern states only recently implementing stay-at-home orders, hospitals and local officials fear even sparsely populated counties could soon have more cases than their health care systems can handle. Local leaders and federal representatives are scrambling to add hospital capacity.