The number of new COVID cases has declined steadily for weeks and appears to be sticking to its downward trajectory. But even as the U.S. overall is making progress against the pandemic, some states are still faced with localized COVID surges of their own as the virus continues to spread.
Over the past seven days, the national daily average of newly reported infections per 100,000 people has dropped 17 percent to 21, according to The Washington Post as of Oct. 26. But while some experts have credited the expansion of vaccines with recent success against the virus, others still warned that officials should be careful not to repeat some of the mistakes they have made in the past.
“We have highly effective vaccines—which, yes, the new [Delta variant] impacts, and we may need to get boosters to protect people who are vulnerable and high-risk—but we have made big strides compared to this time last year, going into colder weather, at least in the northern hemisphere,” Nahid Bhadelia, MD, director of Boston University’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research, told the Associated Press.
But, she later added: “We have done this every single time—starting with Memorial Day last year—where we just open up too fast, and I think this time, maybe we should be a bit more cautious.” To keep the pandemic in check, she recommended keeping requirements in place for masks in public spaces and mandating proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend events.
Read on to see which states have experienced COVID surges of 10 percent or more over the past week as of Oct. 26, according to data from The Washington Post.
- New cases in the last seven days: 22 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 10 percent
After seeing weeks of relatively steady decline, Nevada has seen its daily average rise over the past week. And while the increase in new infections and hospitalizations in Clark County—the state’s most populous—appeared to be already flattening out, numbers statewide are still above the threshold set by health officials for removing mask mandates.
- New cases in the last seven days: 43 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 10 percent
Colorado has continued to struggle with an ongoing COVID surge that did not break after summer ended. Hospitalizations, in particular, have put a heavy strain on the local healthcare system. “I think we’re certainly at our highest capacity levels that we’ve seen. Our hospitals are stretched incredibly thin,” Cara Welch, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Hospital Association, told Colorado Public Radio. “We’re having to pull all of the levers available to us, so we have emergency departments going on divert [which means turning away ambulances as emergency rooms fill]. We’re turning down out-of-state transfers.”
Another expert cautioned that the worst may not even be over yet for the state. “The heartburn, obviously, that I’m feeling is that we’re inching closer and closer to Thanksgiving. And the fact we are plateaued or continuing to increase means we’re going to be in for a rough several months,” Michelle Barron, MD, the senior medical director of infection control and prevention for UCHealth, told Colorado Public Radio.
- New cases in the last seven days: 138 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 12 percent
Over the past month, an ongoing surge in Alaska has kept it near the top of the list of states in terms of new cases per capita. Health data revealed that September was the deadliest month of the entire pandemic for the state, as well as breaking case number records, which have carried over through this month, Anchorage Daily News reports.
“September was a bad month, and unfortunately, I think people can expect to the next couple of months are going to have pretty high death numbers compared to what we’re used to,” Benjamin Westley, MD, a doctor who treats COVID-19 patients in Anchorage, told Anchorage Daily News. “There’s no way to avoid death when this many people that are unvaccinated are getting COVID. Clearly, our death rate amongst other states is going to rise. You can’t have more COVID than any other state for three or four weeks on end without expecting the deaths to go up.”
- New cases in the last seven days: 30 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 14 percent
After weeks of steady decline, Oregon reported numbers over the past week showing a sudden increase in newly reported COVID cases across the state. Some experts worry that fatigue with precautions such as mask ordinances could slow the decrease in cases as colder weather sets back in. According to Peter Graven, a data scientist from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), riskier behavior such as dining at restaurants or visiting indoors with people from outside the household are on the rise and could be to blame for the recent uptick.
- New cases in the last seven days: 34 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 17 percent
As cases continue to rise in pockets of New England, Maine is still battling an ongoing surge within its borders. A sustained high level of hospitalizations has also put a heavy strain on the local healthcare system. On Oct. 23, Maine also became the third-to-last state to cross the 100,000 case threshold, leaving Vermont and Hawaii as the last to pass that mark.
- New cases in the last seven days: 35 cases per 100,000 people
- Percent increase in the last seven days: 35 percent
After seeing cases plateau and slightly dip over September and October, COVID-19 cases have come bounding back in Arizona. In particular, deaths from the virus in the state have seen a drastic surge, with the seven-day rolling average of daily new deaths per 100,000 people spiking by 138 percent last week. “It’s bad,” Will Humble, executive director of Arizona’s Public Health Association, told The Post.