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Coronavirus hospitalizations grow in the Midwest amid climbing cases

Growing coronavirus outbreaks across the American West and Midwest have started to take an alarming turn as some states report growing Covid-19 hospitalizations and a shrinking supply of beds for patients. 

Six states reached record high Covid-19 hospitalizations, based on a weekly average to smooth out the reporting, as of Friday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic.  

Most of the states are based in the Midwest, including Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

There were at least 663 people in the hospital with Covid-19 in Wisconsin as of Friday, well beyond the state’s previous highs in April when roughly 400 people were hospitalized. Only 19% of the state’s hospital beds are available and 27% of the state’s Covid-19 patients are in the intensive-care unit, according to its data dashboard. 

In Missouri, there were at least 1,137 people hospitalized with Covid-19 on Friday, the state’s highest number of patients so far, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Missouri, which tracks the weekly average of coronavirus patients, has reported a steady increase in patients and a slight decline in available intensive-care unit beds since early September.

Public health experts watch hospitalizations closely because they can indicate how severe an outbreak is in an area. It’s considered a better measure than new cases because it’s not as reliant on the availability of testing. 

Nationwide, coronavirus cases were growing by 5% or more, based on a weekly average, in 27 states as of Friday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Kentucky, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Montana reached record-high averages. 

“What we’re seeing is community based transmission right now in the upper Midwest and the Northwest,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers on Friday during a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing. 

“What we’re facing now is just plain old community spread as we saw in the Southeast and Southwest that comes from individuals not practicing the three W’s: wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your face coverings.” 

Wisconsin reports ‘alarming trends’

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday urged residents to stay at home as much as possible and to wear face coverings when in public. Evers extended Wisconsin’s mask mandate last week as he warned of an “alarming increase” in cases across the state, especially on college campuses. 

“I’m concerned about the alarming trends of Covid-19 we’re seeing across our state,” Evers reiterated during a press briefing Thursday, a day after the state reported 27 new Covid-19 deaths — it’s highest daily total on record. 

Wisconsin reported 2,745 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, continuing a trend of climbing infections at a level the state has yet to witness in its response to the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins data. 

“For a long stretch there we were kind of smoldering along, but never really got to a point where we would say that our resources

Midwest Latest Region to be Hit Hard by COVID Spread | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

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.

Globally, COVID death toll passes 1 million

The global coronavirus pandemic reached a grim new milestone this week: One million dead.

Americans made up more

Hospitals feel squeeze as coronavirus spikes in Midwest

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The coronavirus tightened its grip on the American heartland, with infections surging in the Midwest, some hospitals in Wisconsin and North Dakota running low on space and the NFL postponing a game over an outbreak that’s hit the Tennessee Titans football team.

Midwestern states are seeing some of the nation’s highest per capita rates of infection, and while federal health officials again urged some governors in the region to require masks statewide, many Republicans have resisted.

Like other states, health officials in Wisconsin had warned since the pandemic began that COVID-19 patients could overwhelm hospitals. That’s now happening for some facilities as experts fear a second wave of infections in the U.S.


A record number of people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Wisconsin. Of those 737 patients Wednesday, 205 were in intensive care, with spikes in cases in northern parts of the state driving up the numbers. The state also reported its highest single-day number of deaths — 27 — raising the toll to 1,327.

Officials at ThedaCare, a community health system of seven hospitals, said they have exceeded capacity in the COVID-19 unit at their medical center in Appleton, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Milwaukee. It’s started sending patients to other hospitals some 40 miles (64 kilometers) away.

Wisconsin health officials reported 2,319 new infections, bringing the total number to 122,274.

In North Dakota, hospitals are adding extra space amid concerns from employees about capacity. 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.

A new Sanford Health hospital unit opened in the capital of Bismarck to add 14 more beds, with nearly half of those for intensive care patients. The space isn’t exclusively for coronavirus patients but could be used to treat them if needed.

Overall, North Dakota has reported 21,846 infections and 247 deaths. There are 89 people now hospitalized.

The upswing has been seen throughout the Midwest. Iowa also reported a spike in people hospitalized with the virus, to 390. Last week, the state had the nation’s sixth-highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people, according to a White House coronavirus task force report dated Sunday. 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 number of reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma increased by 980 on Wednesday, with 13 additional deaths, state health officials said. A total of 1,031 people have died of the virus there.

The strain of the virus in the Midwest comes as President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, sparred over the pandemic during the first presidential debate. Trump defended his handling of the

Midwest sees spike in new COVID-19 infections

As the Midwest becomes the next COVID-19 hotspot, North Dakota is seeing some of the most pronounced spikes, with 21,401 confirmed positive cases, and a current testing positivity rate of 8.92 percent. 

Based on data from the state department of health, the daily new positive cases have been on a steady incline since the end of June and beginning of August, hitting a record high in September. 

Active hospitalizations have also increased over the same time period, with 105 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized –– a record high.


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Central Burleigh county leads the state in cases, and data aggregated by The New York Times places three counties in North Dakota, including Logan, Emmons and Lyman, in its top 10 hotspot list. The Times also reports a 35 percent increase in new cases over the past two weeks for the state, as well as a 215 percent increase in deaths over the same timespan. 

Its neighbor South Dakota is facing a similar problem, with health department data reporting 259 new cases as of Tuesday. South Dakota currently has 3,684 active cases, and 211 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized. Larger trends reveal that South Dakota hit a record-high new case count on September 24, with 488 coronavirus infections confirmed. 

Over the last 14 days, South Dakota’s testing positivity rate stood at 12.3 percent, bringing the cumulative positivity rate to 9.1 percent. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines advise that any jurisdiction must see a 14-day downward trajectory in percent positive infections to advance into Phases 2 and 3 of reopening. 

Per New York Times data, South Dakota is witnessing a 91 percent increase in new cases over the last 14 days, with at least 197 new cases reported on September 28. 

Other states in the Midwestern and Western U.S. showing similar jumps in new infection and hospitalizations include Montana, Wisconsin and Iowa. 

The reasons behind the surge for the central U.S. can be attributed to the virus moving inland from its previous coastal hotspots. 

“It was only a matter of time,” Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, told TIME. “Essentially, we’re playing Whack-A-Mole. One part of the country is a hotspot. We’re able to suppress that. But that wave then moves to a different part of the country.”

Community spread is a major reason for the increased transmission into more rural areas, namely among smaller populations and within college campuses. 

Wen says a key to controlling the surge will be an increase in testing surveillance, as well as strict adherence to public health mandates, such as