Peter Wells in New York
The US added fewer new coronavirus cases and deaths during September than the previous month, but signs the Midwest is displacing southern and western states as the hotspot of the pandemic have mounted.
Last month, states confirmed a combined 1.2m new infections, down from about 1.4m in August, according to a Financial Times analysis of the latest data from Covid Tracking Project at the end of September. A further 23,129 fatalities were attributed to the disease during the month, down from 30,101 in August.
As a whole, southern and western states, which bore the brunt of a summer surge in cases, reported fewer new infections in September than the month before, but the reverse was true of the Midwest and northeast regions.
A total of 15 states experienced their biggest monthly increases in new infections during September, compared with three states that reported their largest monthly caseload of the pandemic during August. July was the record, proving the biggest month for 19 states. It should be noted that testing capacity and volumes are now much larger than during early stages of the pandemic.
In a sign of the pandemic’s more rapid spread through the interior of the country, eight of the 15 states that had their biggest monthly jumps in cases during September were in the Midwest. That represents two-thirds of the 12 states that fall under the Census Bureau’s definition of the Midwest.
At the end of September, California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin were the only states that had averaged more than 2,000 new cases a day over the past week, according to an FT analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.
Montana, North Carolina and the Midwestern states of Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin are those where the seven-day rolling average of new cases was at a record high as of September 30.
Adjusted for population, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Montana have each averaged more than 30 new cases a day per 100,000 people over the past week.
As of September 30, the Midwest as a whole is now averaging 18.59 new cases per 100,000 people per day compared with 14.53 in the south, 10.16 for western and Pacific states and 6.26 for the northeast region. The Midwest’s population-adjusted case rate has routinely exceeded that of the south since early September, having lagged the latter since the start of June when that area began dealing with its summer surge in cases.
At the end of last month, there were nearly 7,400 people currently in hospitals in the Midwest with coronavirus. That is about 1,500 more than the number in western states and less than half of the number of current hospitalisations in the south, but those two regions experienced an overall decline in hospitalisations during the month.
As a whole, the number of patients hospitalised in the Midwest rose by about 1,300, or 21 per cent, during September. The northeast was the only other region where hospitalisations increased overall, by 457, or 24 per cent.
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