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Two Areas to Watch as the Pandemic Marches North

August 20, 2021  ||  by matt albasi

The current wave of the pandemic that began around Arkansas is marching north. States in the Northeast and Upper Midwest that have largely maintained low case counts during this wave are starting to see increases in COVID case numbers. If you’re in one of these areas and have been putting off adopting pandemic precautions, it’s time to amend that decision.

Sturgis Deja Vu

Cases in South Dakota have accelerated at the fastest rate in the country after more than half a million people came together for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last weekend. Further south, as case counts also increase in Kentucky, neighboring northern states like Illinois and Indiana may start to see case counts increase in the coming weeks.

Map showing the projected changes in covid risk for South Dakota

The northeast is seeing similar trends as cases push northward from the Carolinas into Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Meanwhile, New York, Rhode Island and Maine are all seeing case growth accelerate as well. For the time being, daily case numbers in the region are in the hundreds— about ten times lower than in the South— but with 50-100 percent growth every two weeks, they can increase rapidly. 

Some Reprieve in the South

While we see fast case growth in new regions, some states that were hit hard at the beginning of the summer — like Florida and Missouri — are slowing down. Florida, which saw cases doubling every two weeks at the start of August, is now increasing 33 percent over the same period. Cases in Missouri are decreasing for the first time since June. 

Despite the tide beginning to turn in some areas, deaths and hospitalizations continue to climb nationally. While still lower than most other points in the pandemic, deaths more than doubled since the beginning of August, and hospitalizations increased nationally as well, increasing by more than 50 percent over two weeks. Hospital systems in many areas of the South remain short on hospital and ICU beds, which puts everyone at a greater health risk.

As always, we share these insights not to alarm you but to give you a pragmatic snapshot of the state of the pandemic so you can better prepare. With the current outlook, we recommend some of the tried and tested protocols developed this year. That means wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, avoiding large gatherings or opting instead to have them outdoors, and getting vaccinated if you haven’t already.

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