Virus expert Michael Osterholm predicts a further spike in Delta cases. "I do," he warns. And they might be coming to your neighborhood. "One of the challenges we have right now is as a country, we're in a series of regional epidemics of COVID overlaid into one big national pandemic outbreak. For example," Osterholm told MPR, "initially we saw cases rapidly elevated in Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Southern Missouri, Northern Arkansas, and Mississippi. Those numbers are actually leveling off and starting to come down. What we're seeing now, however, is big regional increases in the following regions. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
On Thursday, Georgia saw a record number of COVID patients hospitalized, WSB 2 reported. More than 6,000 COVID patients are hospitalized statewide, and 95% of ICU beds are occupied. Dr. Felipe Lobelo of Kaiser Permanente Georgia warned even vaccinated residents to be careful if they're gathering with friends and family over Labor Day weekend. "Do you have small children that have not been vaccinated? Do you have immunocompromised family members? In general, we know gatherings outdoors are much better than indoors."
According to data gathered by the New York Times, South Carolina has the nation's highest number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. WYFF 4 reported that experts are particularly concerned by the rise in pediatric cases. "Many of these cases are among those who are too young to get vaccinated, so they are relying on parents or siblings and the rest of the eligible population in their community to protect them through vaccinations and masking and other safety protocols," said Dr. Jonathan Knoche, medical consultant for the state's health department.
North Carolina saw the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in months this week. According to New York Times data, the number of new cases has risen by 25% and hospitalizations by 41% in the last 14 days.
Tennessee has the nation's second-highest number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents, the Times reports. New cases and hospitalizations are rising—up more than 50% and 35% over two weeks ago, respectively. On Sept. 2, 1 in 85 Tennesseans actively had COVID-19.
Cases in Southern Indiana have been hitting record highs for weeks. According to the Indiana State Department of Health on Sept. 1, Clark County's seven-day unique positive test rate was 22.3%, and Floyd County's was 17.5%. Experts consider a COVID outbreak to be well controlled when the test positivity rate is 1% or below.
According to NBC Chicago, Southern Illinois "is seeing the highest test positivity rate in the state, at 11% as of Monday and still rising, and has seen increases in COVID hospitalizations on nine of the last 10 days, according to IDPH data." One region in the state's southern tip has only seven ICU beds open.
Osterholm warned that "places like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana" were rising trouble spots. In Washington, new cases are up 21% and hospitalizations up 33% in the last 14 days, according to the New York Times. In Oregon, KATU 2 TV reported that the highest number of COVID patients were hospitalized across the state than at any point during the pandemic. Dr. Peter Graven, Oregon Health&Science University's director of advanced analytics, turned a cautious eye to school openings. "I think the next thing that I'm really worried about is, is that potential surge," he said. "We believe if you take strong action and protect yourself at school" — with measures like face masks — "that the transmission risk can be low."
The Upper Midwest
According to the New York Times, North Dakota has seen the country's highest increase in COVID hospitalizations in the last 14 days. They are up 304%, and new cases have risen 92%. Meanwhile, COVID-related hospitalizations in South Dakota are up 105%, and new case reports 119%, over two weeks ago, just after the conclusion of the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Duluth News Tribune attributed the ongoing surge to the area's low vaccination rate and to Sturgis, where attendees mingled largely mask-free in local bars and restaurants. "Think of it as a lit match touching dry tinder," the paper said.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.