Health News

New COVID-19 cases surge in U.S. Midwest, weekly deaths down nationally

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks play slot machines amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a casino outside the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

(Reuters) - Several U.S. Midwestern states are experiencing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and positive test results, some linked to colleges reopening and others stemming from an annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Iowa leads the nation with cases rising by more than 8,000 in the past week, or 116%, according to a Reuters tally of state and county reports. At the same time, positive test rates in Iowa shot up to 24% from 13% the prior week.

South Dakota has the next highest positive test rate at 23%, followed by North Dakota at 20%. At least 25 states reported a positivity rate above 5%, a level the World Health Organization says raises concerns as it suggests there are more cases yet to be uncovered.

South Dakota drew hundreds of thousands of people to the annual rally in Sturgis from Aug. 7 to 16. The South Dakota health department said 105 cases had been traced to the event.

(Open in an external browser for a Reuters interactive graphic)

Nationally, the number of new cases fell 2% last week, the sixth straight week of declines, but the number of new infections still averages more than 41,000 a day.

Last week’s total of U.S. COVID-19 deaths was down 7% from the previous week and averaged 900 deaths a day.

The United States tested on average 715,000 people a day last week, up from 685,000 people a day the prior week, but down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day.

Nationally, the share of all tests that came back positive for the new virus fell for a fourth week in a row to 5.8%, down from 6.3% the prior week and below a peak of nearly 9% in mid-July, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Graphic by Chris Canipe; Editing by Howard Goller