Case numbers rose in the northeast this spring. They started this summer in the south and west. And now, even as parts of the country experience rapid improvement, reports of new infections have increased in the Midwest.
Nationally, new coronovirus cases were reported, from a peak of over 66,000 cases at the end of July to less than 40,000 in mid-September. But this trend ignores the complex geography of the epidemic. Improvement in one area may come amid suffering growth in another.
Through Friday, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa have added more recent cases per capita than other states. As restrictions were imposed around the country, some local governments in the Midwest urged people to take the virus more seriously, and consider possible new limits on the bar and publicly masked requirements.
“When things opened up, it was like, ‘We’re ready for the party,” Dr. Said Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer of the University of Kansas Health System. Kansas has seen some of its highest daily case averages in recent weeks. “We did not get the initial bounce that New York gave, so people were not as well-rounded.” But, he said, “suddenly, that caught up with us.”
The upsticks have caused alarm and fear in places that were the worst of the pandemics until now.
“Our community is experiencing its first sustained, significant illness since the onset of this terrible epidemic,” said Joe Paris, county executive in Dane County, Wis. “We will do some incredibly difficult and tragic weeks ahead if we no longer rally together and stop this deeply troubling trend.”
The rise of infection in the Midwest is different from what happened in March in Brooklyn or in July in South Texas. So far, there are no hospitalizations. The morgue has not been uprooted. Lockdown has not been ordered.
Young adults, who often have cases of the virus, are helping to drive this boom in cases. Thousands of infections have been linked to Midwestern universities, some of which have struggled to enforce the rules of social perversion. Although college outbreaks are not unique to the region, the scale of outbreaks that see relatively small populations in states such as South Dakota and North Dakota has had an external impact.
“We knew it was coming, where there are more than 600 infections – or one in every 24 cases in the state – associated with the University of North Dakota,” said Mayor Brandon Bochensky of Grand Forks, N.D. ” Can control students, “Mr. Bochensky said,” we would have known that about 200 years ago. We did the best we could. ”
College campuses do not explain all the challenges of the Midwest. Several cases in several states have been linked to a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD, which attracted thousands of people across the country. Hundreds of people were infected in a prison in Wichita, Kan. In parts of rural Iowa and North Dakota, cases have increased with no clear link to the college.
New Daily Cases and Hospitals in the Midwest
A 7-day rolling average of new cases is shown.
As summer ends in the Midwest, difficult questions surround. Worst still ahead? Will college outbreaks spread beyond campuses? Do places like Michigan and Ohio, which have survived the worst so far, start to backslide? And can public health officials persuade more people to wear masks?
Greg McDanell said, “It’s just a challenge for us to go out there and harass half the citizens who don’t believe or are still unsold that face coverings are important to the spread of Kovid-19.”, The city manager of Maryville, Mo., where local authorities require masks and where hundreds of cases have been reported at Northwest Missouri State University. “Face covering is unfortunately a political issue for many people.”
Case numbers are not the only sign of trouble in the Midwest. The positivity rates of the tests, which measure the percentage of positive findings among all those tested, are at almost high levels in the Great Plains, indicating uncontrolled prevalence and inadequate monitoring.
Ohio State University Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Bill Miller said, “If the positivity rate is more than 10 percent, especially more than 15 percent, then it is worrying that people are simply not testing enough.” “If you are approaching a high level of positivity, it means that you are targeting your test to people who are symptomatic.”
Although the national outlook has improved since July, the Midwest is not the only region facing problems. Several southern states have seen an increase in caseloads in recent weeks. And in the West and Northeast, thousands of new cases keep coming up every week.
But regional trendlines in the Midwest, where case numbers remain high, have made many residents uncomfortable. Reports of new cases have started falling in recent days following a spike in August, along the Lee County, Iowa, Mississippi River. But the mood remains grim, said Rita Cashman-Baker, who has operated a salon in Fort Madison for more than 30 years.
“I think people are just sad and depressed, and saying, ‘How do we know when the end will be?” “Ms. Cashman-Baker said.