These 6 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges Right Now

The highly contagious Delta variant continues to push the national daily case average up.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise coast to coast as the summer surge fueled by the Delta variant carries on. The daily national average has risen since early July to hit 133,526 reported cases as of August 16, according to data from The Washington Post. The national spike has forced some local health officials to bring back health precautions such as mask mandates or enact vaccine requirements for public spaces such as restaurants or gyms. Meanwhile, other areas continue to see infections rise at a record-breaking pace, leaving some states short on hospital beds during the worst surges seen during the pandemic.

Some officials continued to express concern that the current spike in cases wasn't even close to hitting its heights yet. "I will be surprised if we don't cross 200,000 cases a day in the next couple of weeks, and that's heartbreaking considering we never thought we would be back in that space again," Francis Collins, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said during an appearance on Fox News on August 15.

"That was January, February, that shouldn't be August," he added. "But here we are with the Delta variant, which is so contagious, and this heartbreaking situation where 90 million people are still unvaccinated, who are sitting ducks for this virus, and that's the mess we're in."

Read on to see which states are seeing the worst COVID surges of 45 percent or more over the past week as of August 16, according to data from The Washington Post.

RELATED: Virus Experts Have Stopped Going to These 4 Places as Delta Surges.


Maine House
  • New cases in the last seven days: 13 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 45 percent

The number of newly reported cases in Maine has spiked over the past week. Hospitalizations are following the rise, tripling from three weeks ago to 69 with more than half admitted to intensive care units, Bangor Daily News reports. However, less than five percent of all cases in the state have involved fully vaccinated people being hospitalized, according to data on Maine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The change in the trajectory of the pandemic has dragged down morale among some healthcare workers. "I felt like we were nearing a post-pandemic world and clearly we're not there yet," Cathy Bean, a manager for Northern Light Home Care and Hospice in southern Maine who has worked on vaccine outreach, told Bangor Daily News, "so it makes it really difficult for us to continue on when it doesn't seem to have an end in sight."

New Mexico

cityscape photo of Santa Fe, New Mexico at dusk
  • New cases in the last seven days: 36 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 45 percent

New Mexico's most recent COVID surge includes 1,776 new cases reported over the weekend of August 15. Health officials point out that cases in the state have increased to ten times what they were in July, almost matching pace with the nationwide spike.

"We're seeing a really rapid rise," Christine Ross, MD, Director of Epidemiology Response Division for New Mexico, told the Santa Fe Reporter. "Trends have been going absolutely in the wrong direction, mostly fueled by this highly contagious Delta variant."

RELATED: This Is When the Delta Surge Will Be Worst in Your Area, Virus Expert Warns.

North Dakota

downtown fargo and the fargo movie theater in north dakota
  • New cases in the last seven days: 19 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 45 percent

A recent spike in COVID cases has brought hospitalization levels to the highest point in three months, The Bismarck Tribune reports. The surge has led to a renewed shortage of hospital beds in some areas as the virus continues to spread.

"Right now in North Dakota, when you look at the risk of transmission, most of our counties are in the moderate to high-risk category now," Kirby Kruger, the section chief for the North Dakota Department of Health Disease Control division, told KXMA News, a local ABC affiliate. "Consistently, 80 to 85 percent of the individuals who are ending up in the hospital with COVID are people who are not vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated. They've only had partial doses or series."


The skyline of Portland, Oregon at dusk
  • New cases in the last seven days: 39 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 62 percent

Over the weekend of Aug. 15, Oregon was one of five states to report breaking its previous record for average number of daily new COVID cases, CNBC reports. The state has also recently seen a staggering surge in COVID-related hospitalizations, breaking records three days in a row and leading Gov. Kate Brown to deploy up to 1,500 National Guard members to assist the state's health systems.

RELATED: Don't Eat Indoors If You Live Here—Even If You're Vaccinated, Virus Expert Warns.

Rhode Island

The skyline of Providence, Rhode Island at dusk.
  • New cases in the last seven days: 33 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 66 percent

Despite seeing the second-highest jump in cases over the past week, the smallest state in the union has some other outsized figures related to the pandemic. According to data from The New York Times reported by The Providence Journal, Rhode Island has reported the most COVID cases per capita in the U.S. and is ranked fifth for deaths per capita nationally.

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South Dakota

The skyline of Rapid City, South Dakota
  • New cases in the last seven days: 21 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 252 percent

The recent surge in South Dakota has pushed newly reported cases to the highest levels seen since May. The spike also comes after the week-long Sturgis Motor Rally wrapped up on Aug. 15, with some estimating an attendance of over 700,000 people, USA Today reports.

The decision to hold the event caused concern for some top health officials, including Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser. "I mean, to me, it's understandable that people want to do the kinds of things they want to do. They want their freedom to do that," he said during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Aug. 8. "But there comes a time when you're dealing with a public health crisis that could involve you, your family, and everyone else that something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do."

RELATED: This Is Exactly When the Delta Variant Surge Will Peak, Expert Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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