A woman receives the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services Center as cases spread across the Midwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 2, 2020.
Alex Wroblewski | Reuters
Coronavirus outbreaks that once roamed the east coast and the American sun belt states are now increasing in the country’s Great Plains as North Dakota and South Dakota report more new Covid-19 cases per capita than any other state in the entire country.
According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, South Dakota reports around 57 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population daily, the highest of any US state, based on a weekly average as of Wednesday. North Dakota, which ranks second, reports just over 56 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population.
Nationwide, coronavirus cases grew 5% or more in more than 30 U.S. states on Wednesday, based on the weekly average, according to Johns Hopkins. New Coronavirus The cases grew by more than 8% compared to the previous week and averaged over 45,200 new cases every day.
According to Johns Hopkins, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and Alaska all reached record highs for average new cases.
Wisconsin activates the Surge Hospital
In Wisconsin, which reports the third highest number of infections per capita in the US, the state outbreak has taken a “dire” turn as Covid-19 hospital stays hit record highs. Governor Tony Evers said Wednesday the outbreak threatens to overwhelm state health systems and their ability to treat critically ill patients.
Evers announced that the state will activate an alternative care facility with 530 beds in Wisconsin State Fair Park for coronavirus patients with overflow. As of Wednesday, more than 870 people with the coronavirus were hospitalized in Wisconsin, according to state data.
“We were hoping that day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately Wisconsin is in a very different, worse place today and our health systems are gradually being overwhelmed by the rise in COVID-19 cases,” Evers said in one statement.
Andrea Palm, secretary-designate for the Wisconsin Department of Health, said hospitals across the state are suffering from critical staff shortages, largely because healthcare workers “have an infection or exposure to the virus in their communities.”
Only 16% of Wisconsin’s approved hospital beds are immediately available, with a quarter of hospitalized coronavirus patients in intensive care, according to the state dashboard. More than 300 healthcare workers said they suffered from Covid-19 symptoms or tested positive at the end of September.
Utah struggles with contact tracing
Utah County, south of Salt Lake City, has reported a high percentage of Covid-19 infections compared to the rest of the state, leading to further restrictions by Governor Gary Herbert in some of its cities last month.
While Utah County reported the highest rate of new cases, that number has steadily declined over the past week Salt Lake Tribune reported. However, the rate in the Salt Lake City area is now increasing rapidly.
“We’ve seen a significant increase pretty quickly,” Utah County Health Department spokeswoman Aislynn Tolman-Hill told CNBC, noting that the number of new cases increased from around 130 to over 500 every day a matter of days. “It’s been a real upward trend,” she said.
The spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks has also hampered contact tracing efforts by the county who have been working “hands on deck” through the recent surge in cases, she said.
“Sometimes we just had to contact people at high risk and then ask them to reach out to everyone they contacted and give them instructions on what that means and who to contact,” Tolman said. Said Hill.
Rural communities at risk
Infectious Disease Experts previously warned that the coronavirus It could take weeks for the pandemic to peak in rural areas of the country. This could lead to a severe shortage of hospital beds and healthcare professionals to look after patients.
The coronavirus pandemic poses a significant risk for people living in rural communities as they tend to smoke cigarettes more often, have high blood pressure and obesity, and have less access to health care and are less likely to have health insurance US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
In Nebraska, there has been a “worrying trend” of increasing coronavirus hospital stays, said Dr. Angela Hewlett, Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America and Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told CNBC late last week.
However, unlike Nebraska’s previous spring peak, hospitals are now allowed to perform elective surgery, which has resulted in an even further decline in available hospital resources, said Hewlett, who leads a Covid-19 infectious disease team at the university’s medical center.
“Having an empty bed in a hospital is not an indication of the ability to care for a patient because those beds must be occupied by health care workers,” said Hewlett. “And there is currently a shortage of intensive care nurses and others to care for these patients.”
– CNBCs Nate Rattner contributed to this report.