U.S. Coronavirus Cases Increased by 23 Percent in Last 2 Weeks

Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE After two and a half months of steadily decreasing numbers of new COVID-19

Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

After two and a half months of steadily decreasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases, infections are again trending upwards in the U.S.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been over 7,146,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 204,600 people have died, according to The New York Times’ database. Although still lower than its July peek, over the past week there has been a nationwide average of 43,111 cases per day, a 23 percent increase from two weeks earlier.

Throughout much of the midwest — which saw a massive surge over the summer — cases remain high, and are increasing daily. Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin are all reporting consistently high rates of new infections.

A number of neighboring states to the south — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee — are also experiencing high and rising numbers, as are several western states: Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

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Since late August, the rate of new cases in Utah has tripled, and the state has repeatedly broken their own records for daily infections, most recently on Friday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The Utah Department of Health has attributed the majority of new cases to young people.

The “alarming increase” in Wisconsin cases has also been linked to a younger demographic.

“With the start of the school year and campuses reopening in the last several weeks, Wisconsin is now experiencing unprecedented near exponential growth of the number of COVID-19 cases in the state,” Gov. Tony Evers said during a media briefing last week, noting that the state had actually seen a reduction in cases in August before this surge.

Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming have also recently broken daily coronavirus records, according to The Washington Post and Reuters.

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Small surges are also being reported in states where the number of cases has remained low for recent months.

In New York, new cases topped 1,000 for the first time since June, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an increase in positive test results, primarily in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

Over the weekend, the NYC Health Department also said that “cases continue to grow at an alarming rate in eight neighborhoods in the city, outpacing the citywide average by 3.3 times over the past 14 days.”

“It’s vital that New Yorkers continue to practice the basic behaviors that drive our ability to fight COVID-19 as we move into the fall and flu season,” Cuomo said, according to CNN. “Wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands make a critical difference.”

“We cannot drop our guard,” he added.

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The rise in cases has also led health experts to issue warnings about the possibility of a surge in the coming months — especially as flu season starts.

“My feeling is that there is a wave coming, and it’s not so much whether it’s coming but how big is it going to be,” Eili Klein, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, previously told The Washington Post.

A recent model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine showed that the country is at risk of possibly seeing at least 415,000 deaths from COVID-19 by January.

“The worst is yet to come,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray, warning that the U.S. is “facing the prospect of a deadly December.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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