This State Now Has the Worst COVID Outbreak in the U.S.

Nearly half of the 20 worst COVID outbreaks nationwide are in this state, according to recent data.

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It has now been about nine months since it was first reported that the coronavirus had entered the United States. And while new COVID cases are finally decreasing across the country overall, per data from The New York Times, not every state is seeing that success. In fact, one state currently contains almost half of the 20 worst COVID outbreaks in the country, including the very worst: Wisconsin.

There are eight cities in Wisconsin that are on The New York Times' current list of the 20 cities where new coronavirus cases are rising the fastest. The only other two states with more than one city on the list are Tennessee and North Dakota. However, both of these states only have two cities among the top 20 (Cookeville and Tullahoma in Tennessee, and Bismarck and Minot in North Dakota).

But there may be an explanation as to why these Wisconsin cities are getting hit so hard. Seven of the eight metro areas with COVID outbreaks have a University of Wisconsin (UW) school within their city limits, WTMJ-TV first reported. And all of these colleges recently reopened for the fall semester in late August.

"There's real clear evidence that the outbreak that's happening among students has bled into the community more broadly," Malia Jones, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the university, told the Wisconsin State Journal. "Cases have really shot up … even not counting all the students."

To find out which Wisconsin cities are having the worst outbreaks—and which one has the worst outbreak in the entire country—read on. And for more ways to know if you could be coming down with the virus, check out These Are the 51 Most Common COVID Symptoms You Could Have.

8
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan
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While new cases are definitely rising in Green Bay—home of UW-Green Bay—the city's situation isn't quite as bad as the other Wisconsin cities that follow. It comes in at No. 19 on The Times' list. Green Bay had 599 new cases a week ago, and now, the city is seeing 915.

7
Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, USA downtown skyline at dusk on Lake Monona.
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The capital of Wisconsin is also in trouble. Cases there are up from 1,008 new cases to 1,662 in the last week. And, according to WKOW, UW-Madison had to suspend its in-person instruction on Sept. 9, with classes currently continuing virtually until at least Sept. 25.

At least 20 percent of the school's undergraduates have tested positive for the virus thus far. Jones said that it was clear the university outbreak at UW-Madison was related to the increasing number of rising cases in Madison at large. And for more on what COVID patients are experiencing for months, check out The 98 Longest Lasting COVID Symptoms You Need to Know About.

6
Platteville, Wisconsin

Platteville wisconsin street in daylight
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Last week, Platteville had less than 100 new COVID cases. And now, The Times reports that the city, home of UW-Platteville, saw 130 this week. In August and early September, there were many days when this city had less than 10 new cases per day. But on Sept. 13, Platteville hit its own record for the most COVID cases in one day since the start of the pandemic, with 39 new cases.

5
Appleton, Wisconsin

Appleton is a city in Outagamie (mostly), Calumet, and Winnebago counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.
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Appleton is the only city on the list that doesn't house a UW university, but coronavirus cases are still rising rapidly there. The city just saw its record high for daily new coronavirus cases, with 126 new cases on Sept. 16, taking Appleton's case numbers up from 469 last week to 719 this week. And for what could be putting you at risk of catching coronavirus, check out 24 Things You're Doing Every Day That Put You at COVID Risk.

4
Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Scenic Small Town Nestled in Autumn Valley, Beautiful Rural Wisconsin Fall colors.
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Stevens Point is a small city in Wisconsin, with a population of only around 26,000. But it's one of the seven areas with a UW location, which may be why cases are still rising in this small town. Last week, Stevens Point had only 144 new cases and this week, the city saw 219.

3
Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin

Oshkosh is a city in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, United States, located where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago from the west
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Out of the 20 cities where new COVID cases are rapidly rising, the metro area of Oshkosh-Neenah comes in eighth overall, third in Wisconsin. This metro area includes both the larger city of Oshkosh and the smaller city of Neenah, and it's home to UW-Oshkosh. The metro area saw 428 new COVID cases this week, when it had only 158 last week. And while UW-Oshkosh reports that 165 of those active cases are from students and employees at the university, unlike UW-Madison, classes are still being held in-person.

2
Whitewater, Wisconsin

historic railroad depot building of high victorian gothic architecture style in whitewater wisconsin
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The COVID outbreak in Whitewater, Wisconsin is the third worst in the whole country. It's right behind Cookeville, Tennessee, in terms of cities where new cases are rising the fastest. According to The Times, Whitewater, which is home to UW-Whitewater, had only 166 new cases a week ago, and 403 new cases now.

1
La Crosse, Wisconsin

An image of historic Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin at sunset during the summer.
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According to the data, La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the city where new COVID cases are increasing the fastest in the country, meaning it has the worst outbreak nationwide. Just a week ago, there were 142 new cases in the city, and now, there are 737. For comparison on a daily level, new cases only surpassed 30 per day once in La Crosse during August. But in September, the city is often seeing more than 100 new cases each day.

Just this past week, on Sept. 13, UW-La Crosse had to order a 14-day quarantine for all its students in dorms, temporarily close academic buildings, and pause in-person classes, the La Crosse Tribune reported. The university alone had announced a total of more than 200 coronavirus cases in the last week. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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