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Northeast Drives Record U.S. Testing to Monitor Covid-19 Surge

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 10/28/2020 Jonathan Levin

(Bloomberg) -- The Northeast is running America’s biggest Covid-19 surveillance operation as a coronavirus resurgence sweeps the country, sending U.S. testing overall to a record.

The seven-day average of U.S. tests rose to 1.2 million Tuesday, part of an upswing that started about a month ago and has continued unabated, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

The Northeast states account for 26% of average daily tests, even though they are reporting just 10% of the country’s positives and have 17% of the country’s population. That makes it the top testing region per capita.

chart, histogram: Covid-19 Testing at Record High © Bloomberg Covid-19 Testing at Record High

In its latest incarnation, the pandemic has been hitting rural America far harder than urban counties. Densely populated metropolitan areas are trying to prevent incipient outbreaks from getting worse, knowing that the virus can spread quickly in cities.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said last week that his strategy was to “oversample” micro-clusters in hot spots. About 13% of tests on Monday were conducted in such areas, which represent less than 5% of the population.

The Midwest has seen a sharp upswing in testing, too, but it’s in the throes of the nation’s worst case surge, with weekly cases nearly three times as prevalent per capita as the Northeast. In absolute terms, the South actually tests the most, but its pace is near the same level it was in July. And it is far bigger than every other region, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

President Donald Trump recently tweeted that cases are up “because TESTING is way up.” And the latest surge looks more dramatic by cases than by hospitalizations. But month-old trends of rising positivity rates and current hospitalizations make clear that the virus is spreading irrespective of surveillance.

Across the country, the U.S. reported 74,624 cases Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average to a record 72,087, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been almost 227,000 deaths.

According to Covid Tracking Project data:

The seven-day daily average of Midwest cases hit another record of 24,095.Pennsylvania and Colorado reported single-day record cases Tuesday.North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin remain the worst states by per capita cases in the past week.

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