This week’s peak in new cases has spread across the country, rather than being concentrated in a few states, as we saw in the northeast in the spring, in the Sun Belt in early June, and in the Midwest in recent weeks. Seventeen states posted a spike in new cases last week, including nine of 12 Midwestern states and six of 11 Western states.
Single-day case counts are of limited value because some states do not consistently report or accumulate backlogs and then dump several days of test and case data in a single day. Still, when a state sets a new record for daily reported cases, it’s usually a bad sign. Of all the states that reported record highs this week, only Washington’s appears to be the result of irregularity reports; the other 16 states all showed alarming overall trends in cases and hospitalizations over the past week.
Cases in the northeast, where the spread of COVID-19 slowed significantly during the summer after a dismal spring, are on the rise: the seven-day average number of cases in the region more than doubled last month. The Midwest has seen an 81% increase in COVID-19 cases over the same period.
Dakota continues to have the most cases per capita, with South Dakota recording 990 cases per million people and North Dakota 921 cases per million, based on seven-day averages.
The other states reporting the most cases per capita were Wisconsin, Montana and Missouri. Note, however, that this may not reflect the reality on the ground in Missouri, as a database error led to what the state called an “incorrectly inflated” case count for Oct. 10. in fact wrong, or were simply assigned on the wrong date. We will correct our tally once the state updates its numbers.
Montana has posted a week-over-week drop in cases, but the number of hospitalizations in the state continues to rise. Sadly, rising hospitalizations are the rule rather than the exception in states across the country this week.
Last week, 41 states saw an increase in hospitalizations, and this week the number has increased in 42 states. All of the Midwestern states except North Dakota reported more hospitalizations this week than they did on Oct. 8, and only the West had record declines from more than two states. in the hospitalization figures during this period.
We have seen two peaks of hospitalization in national data, each with its own characteristics. From mid-March to mid-June, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 dropped sharply from zero to 60,000 and gradually declined to just under 30,000 hospitalized people. Although outbreaks across the country contributed to the national numbers, these spring and early summer hospitalizations were mostly concentrated in the Northeast. On June 21, national hospitalizations began to rise again as growing numbers in the South and West countered the decline in hospitalizations in the Northeast. As the outbreak concentrated in Sun Belt states was brought under control, hospital admissions gradually fell to just under 30,000 people by mid-September, when the third outbreak began to appear in hospital data. .