These 5 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges Right Now

New infections are still rising in these places as national numbers show signs of dropping.

After two weeks of tumultuous data that have made it difficult to get a handle on the national pandemic outlook, the number of new infections appears to be on the decline once again. But even as the overall figures show progress towards defeating COVID, some states are still feeling the harsh effects of the Delta variant.

Over the past seven days, the national daily new case average has dropped by 16 percent to 42 per 100,000 people, according to data from The Washington Post as of Sept. 21. But even as numbers begin to decline, certain portions of the population are seeing infections rise to unprecedented heights—including younger people. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sept. 10, the hospitalization of children and adolescents rose nearly five times from mid-June to mid-August.

During an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation on Sept. 19, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, explained how a return to the classroom could be generating new surges of the virus. "The Delta variant, as opposed to the Alpha variant, is much, much more transmissible," he said. "It has an efficiency of transmitting from person to person much, much more readily than previous variants. And so many more people, including children, are getting infected."

Read on to see which states have experienced COVID surges of 10 percent or more over the past week as of Sept. 21, according to data from The Washington Post.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Warns You Not to Go to This One Outdoor Place as Delta Surges.


city skyline of and boar crossing river in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • New cases in the last seven days: 37 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 12 percent

Pennsylvania has seen a rise in new COVID cases over the past week. But according to local health officials, the majority of severe cases are affecting patients who aren't fully vaccinated, constituting 95 percent of hospitalizations and 94 percent of cases overall across the state, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

"The unvaccinated tend to be in the ICU, they require additional support for their breathing, they have longer lengths of stay in the hospital," Michael Ripchinsky, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health hospital in Pittsburgh, told reporters at a news conference Sept. 14. "Of the small amount that are vaccinated and admitted to the hospital, many of them are immunocompromised, or they have mild symptoms and they are actually admitted for reasons other than COVID-19."


photo take by a drone of the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Montana
  • New cases in the last seven days: 85 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 16 percent

Drastic surges in COVID cases can put healthcare systems to the test. But in Montana, which has seen a 103 percent increase in cases per capita over the past two weeks, according to The New York Times, local resources are so strained that hospitals are resorting to rationing care.

"For the first time in my career, we are at the point where not every patient in need will get the care we might wish we could give," Shelly Harkins, MD, president and chief medical officer of Helena's Saint Peter's Health in Helena, told Montana Public Radio on Sept. 16. "Our ICU is 100-percent full. Our advanced medical unit is 100-percent full, meaning our critical-care resources are at max capacity. Our morgue is full. For the first time in this pandemic, we face the reality that we're going to need to bring in additional morgue support. What that actually means is a freezer truck in the parking lot."

RELATED: The CDC Says Don't Go to These 2 Popular U.S. Destinations Right Now.


cityscape photo of the downtown area of Des Moines, Iowa
  • New cases in the last seven days: 57 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 22 percent

The ongoing surge in Iowa defies the national trend. The state has seen a rise of 48 percent in new cases, five percent in hospitalizations, and 64 percent in deaths from COVID over the past two weeks, according to data from The Times.

RELATED: These States Will Be Hit by a "True Delta Wave" Next, Virus Expert Warns.


city skyline and buildings in Montipelier, Vermont at twilight
  • New cases in the last seven days: 35 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 46 percent

Last week, state officials in Vermont announced that a software glitch had inflated numbers in last week's record high count, VTDigger reports. But even amended data holds some bad news for the Green Mountain State, showing 46 hospitalizations with the virus, including 15 in the ICU, marking the highest number reported since the summer Delta surge began in the state.

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The skyline of Madison, Wisconsin from the lake at dusk
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
  • New cases in the last seven days: 57 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 69 percent

The ongoing surge in Wisconsin pushed it past a grim milestone on Sept. 20, crossing the 700,000 mark for reported COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. According to data, this means that one in every eight residents of the state has tested positive for the virus at one point.

RELATED: This Is When We Will Finally "Turn the Corner" With COVID, 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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