By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, Oct. 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Coronavirus infections are surging in the American heartland, with Wisconsin bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s relentless spread.
Many Midwestern states are seeing some of the nation’s highest per capita rates of infection, and while federal health officials have again urged some governors in the region to require masks statewide, some Republican governors have resisted, the Associated Press reported.
Wisconsin appeared to be in the worst shape: A record number of people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in that state as of Wednesday. Of 737 patients, 205 were in intensive care, with spikes in cases in northern parts of the state driving up the numbers, the AP reported. Wisconsin health officials reported 2,319 new infections, bringing the total number to 122,274.
The state also reported its highest single-day number of deaths — 27 — pushing the overall death toll to 1,327.
“Over the course of the past two to three weeks we have noticed a marked rise in COVID patients coming into our hospitals in Green Bay,” said Dr. Paul Casey, medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital in Wisconsin, told CNN. “And this comes in the wake of what we thought we were doing well.”
“For the first time in 17 years that I’ve been here, we’ve had to put patients in hallway beds,” Casey told CNN. “I never envisioned having to do that in a small community like Green Bay, but we’ve done it not twice, but three times, in the last 10 days.”
In North Dakota, hospitals are adding extra space amid worries about capacity, the AP reported. Nearly 678 COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people have been diagnosed over the past two weeks, leading the country for new cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Overall, there have been 21,846 infections and 247 deaths.
The surge has been seen throughout the Midwest. Iowa also reported a spike in people hospitalized with the virus, to 390, the AP reported. Last week, the state had the nation’s sixth-highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people, according to a recent White House coronavirus task force report. It again recommended Iowa require masks statewide, which Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has said is unnecessary.
Similarly, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has said he won’t impose such a requirement. The task force report found his state is among the worst in the United States for positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people, up 15% from a week ago.
The Midwest has now overtaken the South for the country’s highest seven-day average of new daily cases per 1 million residents, CNN reported. The Midwest averaged 156 cases per 1 million people, against 124 in the South, 88 in the West and 51 in the Northeast, Johns Hopkins data shows.
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