These Are the 6 States With the Worst COVID Surges Right Now

As spring kicks off, COVID cases in the U.S. are continuing their nearly three-month sustained…

As spring kicks off, COVID cases in the U.S. are continuing their nearly three-month sustained decline. However, after weeks of double-digit drops, the national seven-day average has begun to level off, coming down only three percent over the past week to 10 new cases per 100,000 people as of March 22, according to data from The Washington Post. This is partly because a handful of states are reporting COVID surges after months of progress against the virus.

With cases slowly beginning to plateau, experts are now warning that national case numbers could spike once again. During an appearance on ABC’s This Week on March 20, chief White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, spoke of the warning signs that the long-running drop in infections could end soon as the BA.2 Omicron subvariant continues to spread. “We likely will see an uptick in cases as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K., where they’ve had the same situation as we’ve had now,” he warned. “They have BA.2. They have a relaxation of some restrictions such as indoor masking, and there’s a waning of immunity.”

During an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, former Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, echoed similar concerns. While he agreed that cases might not amount to anything close to the peaks seen over the winter, he said the overall outcome will depend on the actions taken to slow the spread of the virus.

“As well as the lifting of mitigation, people are going out more, they’re interacting more, and some declining immunity from people who are boosted a long time ago or infected a long time ago. We’re relying on that immunity, that immunity isn’t as pronounced right now, so we are going to see an increase in infection,” he said. “I think this is going to be a real test of whether or not we’re able to live some semblance of normalcy and not reach back to the kind of mitigation that we’ve relied on in the past…And so far right now, I don’t know that we’re taking all the steps we need to be taking to protect vulnerable people to weather this bump and potentially another surge heading into next fall.”

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While both officials tempered their warnings, saying cases don’t appear to be more severe than previous subvariants, some experts argued that it’s essential to take advantage of the currently available breathing room to prepare for the future. “You use the quiet periods to do the hard work,” Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The New York Times. “You don’t use the quiet to forget.”

Read on to see which states have experienced COVID surges of more than 15 percent over the past week as of March 22, according to data from The Washington Post.

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buildings and walking bridge by a lake in Providence, Rhode Island at night
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 17 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 18 percent

Despite the latest uptick in cases, officials in Rhode Island said their latest computer models are making them cautiously optimistic about the coming months. “… barring any additional variants or unforeseen changes to conditions, our models are suggesting that we are likely entering a period in which case and hospitalization counts will fluctuate in a relatively tight range for several months,” Joseph Wendelken, the Public Information Officer for the Rhode Island Health Department, told The Providence Journal.

“It is possible we could see a moderate uptick in the short term—we are currently seeing modest increases in non-COVID respiratory infections,” he added. “However, current models suggest that any COVID increases in the short term are not likely to be very sizable or sustained.”

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city skyline of buildings in downtown Detroit, Michigan at twilight
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 10 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 21 percent

A rise in COVID cases in Michigan comes as the state’s positive test rate also saw a modest increase to 3.5 percent as of March 16, local Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV reports. However, hospitalizations have continued to drop to their lowest levels since last summer.

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cityscape photo of Little Rock, Arkansas at sunset
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 20 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 24 percent

While cases in Arkansas have risen in the past week, hospitalizations and deaths in the state have fallen by 44 and 18 percent over the past two weeks, respectively, according to The Times. The state’s positive test rate was 2.7 percent as of March 19, according to COVID Watch Now.

The skyline of Montpelier, Vermont
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 24 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 29 percent

Official health data from Vermont shows that the state’s positive test rate rose alongside cases, increasing from 4.2 percent on March 18 to 4.4 percent on March 20. The state also saw a modest increase in hospitalizations from the virus over the same period, from 17 to 19 patients.

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city skyline of and Water of New York Harbor in New York, NY
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 11 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 33 percent
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During a March 20 press conference, health officials in New York reported that the highly contagious BA.2 Omicron subvariant was responsible for 42 percent of cases across the state, The Times reports. But despite certain areas reporting spikes in infections, they remained cautiously optimistic about the coming weeks.

“We don’t expect to see a steep surge in cases in New York State,” Mary Bassett, MD, the state’s health commissioner, said during the conference. “We will be watching, so I don’t want to promise you that it won’t change.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that officials were still actively monitoring the virus and reacting to data appropriately. “I just want everyone to know that we’ve never taken our foot off the gas when it comes to our preparedness for dealing with this pandemic,” she said. “We never had a high-five moment and said it’s over. We’re in a new phase.”

the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada in the afternoon
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 18 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 42 percent

COVID cases in Nevada were on the rise as the state’s positive test rate remained relatively steady at 4.3 percent as of March 17, according to COVID Act Now. Hospitalizations also decreased statewide, down 40 percent over the past two weeks to a daily average of 202 patients as of March 21, according to The Times.

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