These 7 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges Right Now

As the rate of decline of national cases has slowed, some states are still seeing cases rise.

The sustained drop in new infections seen through the early days of autumn has recently shown signs of plateauing. But even though new coronavirus cases are now well below the latest high points seen over the summer, certain states are still experiencing COVID surges as winter approaches with its own set of renewed risks.

Over the past seven days, the national daily average of new COVID cases has mostly flattened out with a modest three percent drop to 22 per 100,000 people, according to The Washington Post as of Nov. 9. But while the most recent health data still shows progress, some officials are concerned that the return of colder weather and the travel associated with the holiday season could pose a new set of challenges.

"Certainly, things are going in the right direction with the diminution of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths," Anthony Fauci, MD, chief COVID adviser to the White Houe, said during an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly on Nov. 8. "[But] the steepness of the deflection is not as good as it was, let's say, a month or so ago … it's down to a lower number."

Fortunately, Fauci pointed out that the recent approval to administer the vaccine in children between ages five and 11 is "something that's in our favor" to help stay ahead of the virus compared to last winter. "As we go into the winter months with the challenge of a respiratory infection being worse in the winter months, we can get through this if we really put a lot of effort into getting as many people vaccinated as we possibly can," he said.

Read on to see which states have experienced COVID surges of 20 percent or more over the past week as of Nov. 9, according to data from The Washington Post.

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  • New cases in the last seven days: 21 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 20 percent

The latest uptick in COVID cases across Illinois came after 17,462 new infections were reported from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. In a press conference, Allison Arwady, MD, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that the return of cold weather could have played a role in the recent spike and that winter would likely see COVID cases rise again alongside the flu and colds.


downtown pittsburgh pennsylvania
  • New cases in the last seven days: 36 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 21 percent

On Nov. 8, health officials reported that 11,589 new cases of COVID had been reported in Pennsylvania over the weekend. The statewide positive test rate was also revealed to be 9.3 percent for the week of Oct. 29 through Nov. 4.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Gave This Essential Update on the Next COVID Variants.


Nebraska State Capitol and downtown Lincoln, Nebraska at sunrise
  • New cases in the last seven days: 41 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 24 percent

Rising COVID cases in Nebraska have been met with an increase in hospitalizations and deaths from the virus, jumping 12 and 23 percent over the past two weeks, respectively, according to data from The New York Times. The latest spike led health officials to announce that it would once again provide daily updates of the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

Rhode Island

The skyline of Providence, Rhode Island from the water at dusk
  • New cases in the last seven days: 25 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 24 percent

The latest health data shows that COVID cases are rising in Rhode Island once again. On Nov. 8, officials also reported that the state's positive test rate had increased to a seven-day average of 5.1 percent, up from 1.9 percent the previous week.

RELATED: More Than 50 Percent of People Who Get COVID Have This in Common, Study Says.

New Mexico

buildings in and the city skyline of downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • New cases in the last seven days: 56 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 25 percent

The most recent surge of COVID cases in New Mexico has some local health authorities concerned that a worse spike could be in store as colder weather returns. "We're not following the guidelines anymore," Wendy Johnson, MD, chief medical officer at La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe, told the Santa Fe New Mexican. "Our restaurants are packed," she said, adding that public gatherings at places like theaters and birthday parties were also on the rise.

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las vegas strip in nevada
  • New cases in the last seven days: 26 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 28 percent

November has brought a surge of COVID cases to Nevada. The state has seen a 17 percent increase to its daily new case average over the past 14 days, reaching 791 as of Nov. 8, according to data from The Times.

RELATED: A Virus Expert Says She Still Wouldn't Go Here—Even With a Booster.


foliage in montpelier vermont
  • New cases in the last seven days: 50 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 62 percent

Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates of any state, Vermont has lately struggled with some of the highest COVID case numbers it has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The latest reports have cited the return of cold weather and Halloween parties at a local university as some potential causes. But while a recent rise in hospitalizations has some worried that the state's healthcare system could become overrun, some local authorities point out that the situation has never become as dire as it has been in other states thanks to the high percentage of the population that has received their doses.

"We had as many or more patients at this point than we've ever had over the course of the last two years," Rick Hildebrant, MD, chief of hospital medicine at Rutland Regional Medical Center in Rutland, Vermont, told NPR. "But we have never seen the type of scenarios in other parts of the country, where the hospital systems have just been overwhelmed by COVID."

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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