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Southern States Are the Seething Center of America’s Pandemic

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 10/20/2020 David R. Baker and Jonathan Levin

(Bloomberg) -- Even as public attention focuses on the coronavirus outbreak in the Midwest, the pandemic is quietly gathering force in a region that has already suffered greatly -- the South.

By absolute numbers, the region remains the national center of the pandemic.

More people are hospitalized with Covid-19 across the South than in any other part of the U.S., according to the Covid Tracking Project, which uses U.S. Census regions to sort statistics. It’s a big gap, with 17,216 now being treated in Southern hospitals, compared with 10,351 in the Midwest and 6,377 in the West. The Northeast, site of this year’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, now has 3,405 people hospitalized.

chart, line chart, histogram: Daily Covid-19 Cases by Region © Bloomberg Daily Covid-19 Cases by Region

Both regions are recording similar numbers of new cases. The rolling seven-day average of new cases in the South, 21,280 daily, tops the Midwest’s 20,226 daily average. And while some Southern states endured a worse outbreak this summer, others are now setting records, as cooler weather leads people to spend more time congregating indoors.

Kentucky just hit record Covid-19 hospitalizations, after West Virginia and Oklahoma did so on Friday, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

a person riding a horse drawn carriage in front of a building: Kentucky Governor Beshear Extends Mask Mandate As Covid-19 Increases © Bloomberg Kentucky Governor Beshear Extends Mask Mandate As Covid-19 Increases

Customers sit in the outdoor dining area of a restaurant in downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Oct. 16.

Photographer: Michelle Hanks/Bloomberg

And the South’s daily death toll easily tops that of any other region. The South is losing 350 people per day, according to the Tracking Project’s seven-day average, compared to the Midwest’s daily loss of 184 people.

By at least one important measure, however, the outbreak in the Upper Midwest is the most severe: The states with the highest average cases per capita over the past seven days are North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Across the nation:

New cases in Colorado have tripled since hitting a low of 2,016 at the end of August, according to the Denver Post. Last week, the state recorded 6,722 cases.Washington has seen the most dramatic trend swing, with its seven-day average of new cases up 63% in the past week.New York leads in the total number of coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began with 33,366. Texas comes in second, with 17,481, and California third, with 16,982, according to Johns Hopkins University. Florida, with 16,021 deaths to date, may soon surpass New Jersey’s death toll of 16,214 for the country’s fourth-worst fatality count.Washington, New Mexico, Michigan, Illinois and New Jersey have the biggest jumps in their seven-day average of new cases, as compared with a week earlier.

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