WASHINGTON: The number of cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States surpassed six million as many states in the Midwest reported increasing infections.
Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota have recently reported record one-day increases in new cases while Montana and Idaho are seeing record numbers of currently hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
Nationally, metrics on new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and the positivity rates of tests are all declining but there are emerging hotspots in the Midwest region.
Many of the new cases in Iowa are in the counties home to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University which are holding some in-person classes. Many colleges and universities around the country have seen outbreaks after students returned to campus.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state was sending a ‘SWAT team’ to a State University of New York (SUNY) campus in upstate New York to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
Fall classes that started last week at the college were suspended for two weeks after more than 100 people tested positive for the virus, about three percent of the total student and faculty population, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said.
Across the Midwest, infections have also risen after an annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota drew more than 365,000 people from across the country from 7-16th August. The South Dakota health department has traced 88 cases to the rally.
More than eight months into the pandemic, the United States continues to struggle with testing. The number of people tested has fallen in recent weeks.
Many health officials and at least 33 states have rejected the new COVID-19 testing guidance issued by the Trump administration last week that said those exposed to the virus and without symptoms may not need testing.
Public health officials believe the United States needs to test more frequently to find asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers to slow the spread of the disease.
The United States has the most recorded infections in the world and ranks tenth based on cases per capita with Brazil, Peru and Chile having higher rates of infection.
The United States also has the most deaths in the world at nearly 183,000 and ranks 11th for deaths per capita, exceeded by Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Chile, Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Peru.