The 4 States With the Biggest COVID Spikes Are Not Where You'd Expect

While the national numbers are trending down, these states saw major COVID spikes in the last week.

The summer began with huge spikes in coronavirus cases through the South and Southwest, but now, the country appears to be getting a handle on the pandemic. While the U.S. still has the highest number of cases of any country in the world, national cases for the week of August 23 dropped to 297,000 from a mid-July peak of 468,000—and there are now fewer daily cases than we've seen since June, Reuters reports. This marks the fifth consecutive week of declining cases nationwide, with hotspot-turned-success-story states like Arizona seeing huge drops both in new cases and positive test rates.

But unfortunately, not all areas can claim to be making the same progress. In fact, some states are experiencing troubling new COVID spikes—and they're probably not where'd you'd expect to see them. Read on to find out the four states with the biggest COVID spikes in the last week, from lowest to highest. And for more on where coronavirus is spreading, check out This Is Where COVID Cases Are "Building" in the U.S., Expert Warns.


moulton barn at the grand teton national park in wyoming

Rise in COVID cases week over week: 24 percent

Multiple states' spikes are being tied to an annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which ran from Aug. 7 to Aug. 16 and drew in a crowd of over 100,000 people. The gathering made national headlines when attendees flouted social distancing guidelines, including a performance by popular '90s band Smash Mouth to a mostly mask-less crowd.

Since the rally ended, multiple people who were in attendance have tested positive for COVID and cases are believed to have spread to other states, including Wyoming. It was one of two nearby states that also saw cases climb last week. The least populous state in the nation had nearly 300 new COVID cases—for reference, Wyoming has had 3,600 total cases since the start of the pandemic. And for more potential future outbreaks, check out 10 States on the Brink of Becoming COVID Hotspots, According to Experts.

North Dakota

fargo north dakota

Rise in COVID cases week over week: 30 percent

North Dakota was the other state close to the motorcycle rally in South Dakota that saw cases climb. It had almost 1,300 new cases in the last week, which is 13 percent of the 9,900 total cases North Dakota has seen since the pandemic began.

Between South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wyoming, there have been a reported 81 cases among people who attended the rally, the Associated Press reports. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


Aerial view of Bar Harbor Maine

Rise in COVID cases week over week: 33 percent increase

Maine, which was previously able to hold one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S., also saw a significant COVID spike in the last week. While it's the only state on this list whose spike is not tied to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, it also saw a considerable jump in newly reported cases, largely because of a single event.

Local health officials cited an Aug. 7 wedding celebration as the source of at least 53 new infections, which have so far resulted in one death. More than half of the people who attended the 65-person event—which was in violation of the state's 50-person limit on gatherings—tested positive for coronavirus. And for more superspreader events, These Are the Worst Coronavirus "Super Spreaders" You Need to Know.

South Dakota

rapid city, south dakota

Rise in COVID cases week over week: 50 percent

It's no surprise that South Dakota, which recently hosted that ill-fated motorcycle rally, saw the largest increase in cases in the country in this past week, with more than 1,000 new cases reported. The city of Sturgis is now conducting mass COVID testing for its roughly 7,000 residents, according to the Associated Press. And the situation is expected to worsen.

State epidemiologist Joshua Clayton told The Rapid City Journal that cases will likely continue to appear until Aug. 30, which would be two weeks from the rally's end date. "That would be when an individual could develop symptoms," Clayton said. "If there's a couple of days of delay in a person seeking care or getting those test results back, it may push into September. We're not out of the woods yet in terms of potential public notices resulting from the Sturgis rally." And for more signs you could have COVID, check out These Are the 51 Most Common COVID Symptoms You Could Have.

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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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