In response to what is being called the third wave of Covid-19 infections, governors and health-care professionals are taking targeted and partial measures in hopes of curbing the spread of the pathogen as the U.S. continues to top 100,000 cases a day.
While the seven-day moving average of new cases is outpacing the 14-day average in all 50 states, a number of states are being hit particularly hard.
Ohio reported a record 6,508 new positive infections over the past 24 hours, with an additional 386 people hospitalized and 23 deaths. Gov. Mike DeWine, who called the latest data “alarming” in a post on Twitter, plans to deliver a prime-time address Wednesday regarding the state’s fight against Covid-19.
Wisconsin continues to hover at record numbers, with over 7,000 new confirmed cases Tuesday and a 36% positivity rate—or the percentage of tests taken that are returning with a positive result.Arizona on Tuesday reported 3,434 new cases, a figure not seen since late July when the state was in the midst of a difficult surge in infections. Neighboring New Mexico, where daily cases had never before exceeded 1,000, logged a record 1,408 new confirmed cases on Monday.
As infections in Utah rise to fresh heights, Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday imposed a new state of emergency and a statewide mask mandate—a move he avoided throughout the pandemic. “These changes are not shutting down our economy, but are absolutely necessary to save lives and hospital capacity,” Gov. Herbert, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday signed a new proclamation extending the state of emergency for an additional 30 days. The proclamation also requires anyone over the age of 2 years old to wear a mask when attending a gathering of more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors.
“Like so many states, we’ve reached a point of serious community spread, and we can no longer pinpoint one age group or any type of activity that’s driving it,” said Ms. Reynolds, a Republican. Iowa last week reported more than 21,000 new cases with a positivity rate of more than 19%, according to the governor.
The nation’s test positivity level has doubled since Oct. 5, from 4.2% to 8.3%.
Mark Dworkin, professor and associate director of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he believes the rise in new confirmed cases is due to a lack of compliance with health directives.
“We know what slows spread. Spreading out, correctly worn masking, and contact tracing are a big part of control,” Dr. Dworkin said. “While many people do spread out and mask correctly, many don’t. And it’s my understanding that contact tracing has not kept up with the volume of cases.”
In Nebraska, a sustained, six-week surge in cases and hospitalizations led Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday to impose new mandatory mask requirements and capacity limits for businesses, among other restrictions. Two months ago, the state’s seven-day average in daily cases was 270. On Oct. 8, the average daily cases were 1,847—a nearly sevenfold increase.
Bryan Health, a large nonprofit health system in the state, said Tuesday that all elective surgeries requiring overnight stays will be postponed.
“We’ve more than doubled the number of inpatients we have here,” said John Woodrich, chief executive of Bryan Health. “We need all of these available beds.”
To deal with a health-care staffing shortage in North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday that hospital employees who have tested positive for Covid-19 but are asymptomatic could go back to work under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. “We can see the future two, three weeks out, and we know that we have severe constraints,” the Republican said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Monday that multiple counties in and around the Portland area will go on a two week “pause,” which reduces restaurant capacity, stops indoor visitations at long-term care facilities and encourages residents to work from home and to limit social gatherings to six people. The state recorded 707 new cases on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.