U.S. Midwest Covid Surge Lasts Longer Than Coasts’ Agony

Covid-19 is pummeling the Midwest and Upper Plains, particularly states like Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, in a sustained attack that’s outlasted spikes in coastal hubs.

The Midwest registered more than 65,000 new cases Monday, just shy of half the national total. Kansas and Michigan both reported record case counts, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

There are more patients currently hospitalized in the Midwest than in the West and Northeast combined, driven mostly by Illinois and Michigan. That’s straining health care in a region where hospitals are smaller and more dispersed. It’s also the only part of the U.S. where Covid-19 is breaking daily death records.

In a concerted effort to temper the virus, a bipartisan group of governors from the region said Tuesday that cases have “skyrocketed” over the past month, and discouraged residents from hosting Thanksgiving meals with outsiders. “When it comes to fighting this virus, we are all on the same team,” they said in a statement.

The pandemic’s fallout is forcing leaders who acted slowly to grapple with the realities of the disease. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds — who didn’t join the bipartisan group — enacted the state’s first mask mandate Monday, reversing an earlier stance that dismissed masks as “feel good” measures.

The state’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, said Tuesday that he will quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19. There were more than 52,000 new cases in Iowa over the past two weeks, as many as the first five months of the pandemic.

Vastly different population sizes can muddy comparisons between states. But by one measure, the outbreak in Iowa is worse than California even without controlling for population.

California has 39.5 million residents; Iowa has only 3.1 million. But eight months after the virus took hold in Iowa, more people are being infected than in California at a similar point, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The U.S. reported an additional 148,532 cases Monday according to Covid Tracking Project data. There have been more than 247,000 deaths cumulatively, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to Covid Tracking Project data:

  • 73,014 people are currently hospitalized for Covid-19 in the U.S., a record.
  • Kansas, North Dakota and Minnesota had the most new cases per million people.
  • The states with the worst momentum are Wyoming, Minnesota, Colorado, Vermont and Alaska, as measured by the percent change in seven-day average cases from a week earlier.
  • In addition to Kansas and Michigan, Connecticut, Virginia and Tennessee also posted record case counts Monday.

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