As summer transitions into fall, the shape of the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting as well. Some hotspots that raged all summer (Florida, Texas and many Southern states) are on the relative decline, while cases are rising in other regions. In these six states, a recent increase in cases and hospitalizations indicate they're part of the next COVID surge. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
New COVID cases have surged 114% in the last 14 days—the highest in the country, according to data analyzed by the New York Times—although the state's cases per capita put it in the middle of the pack nationwide. But the state appears to be in the midst of another wave. "Officials have worried for weeks about a potential surge from the new school year, Labor Day gatherings and the Minnesota State Fair," MPR News reported this week. Positive tests are at 6% statewide, higher than the 5% officials find concerning, but stable.
New cases in Wisconsin are up 87% in the last two weeks, the second-highest growth rate in the nation. WMTV reported Tuesday that nearly 1,100 patients are hospitalized, the highest since the beginning of the year. One regional hospital closed its urgent care to shift staffers to deal with an influx of ER patients. "Our situation right now is fairly stable compared to last week. That's not the story around the state. Other health systems are seeing cases increase at a faster rate. It's getting challenging," said Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW-Health.
Montana's COVID caseload has surged 77% in the last 14 days, according to the Times' tracker, and it has the sixth-highest number of cases per 100,000 residents in the country. The Great Falls Tribune reported Tuesday that hospitals in some of Montana's most populated areas have been "overwhelmed with virus hospitalizations recently." At least five hospitals have requested help from the National Guard.
Maine's new COVID cases are up 52% in the last two weeks, and a record number of people were hospitalized for COVID in the state on Tuesday. "On Monday, 90 percent of those hospitalized were unvaccinated, continuing a trend with relatively few breakthrough cases occurring in the state," the Bangor Daily News reported. Maine has the second-highest vaccination rate in the country (68%), yet surging cases among the unvaccinated are stressing the hospital system. "We're in for a bumpy ride," one healthcare executive said. "There's no quick fix to any of this."
North and South Dakota
On the most recent episode of his podcast, Dr. Michael Osterholm warned of a potential surge in the Midwest, including Ohio, Minnesota and the Dakotas. North and South Dakota's cases are up 44% and 39%, respectively, placing them in the top 10 nationwide. Meanwhile, the states' percentage of fully vaccinated residents puts them in the bottom 20 there. "Right now we're really more or less in a holding pattern until we can get more people vaccinated," said Osterholm. "This virus is going to keep being transmitted."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.