September 14, 2020 — States in the Midwest continue to report an increasing number of coronavirus cases and hit new records, according to The New York Times.
In particular, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota added more new cases per capita this week than all of the other states.
“Our community is experiencing its first sustained, significant surge of illness since this terrible pandemic began,” Joe Parisi, the county executive of Dane County, Wisc., which includes Madison, said in a statement. The county reported a record-breaking spike on Thursday with 456 new cases.
“The task before all of us is great, as we are facing a public health emergency,” Parisi said. “We will have some incredibly difficult and sad weeks ahead if we don’t rally together now and stop this deeply disturbing trend.”
The majority of the record-breaking total came from the University of Wisconsin. Young people aren’t responding to contact tracers or won’t share details about their contacts, he added, which makes it difficult to track the spread of the coronavirus.
Several spikes in other Midwest states have been linked to universities and colleges. In Grand Forks, N.D., about 1 in every 24 cases have been linked to the University of North Dakota.
“We knew this was coming,” Brandon Bochenski, mayor of Grand Forks, told the newspaper. “We did the best we could.”
On Saturday, Michigan State University “strongly” recommended that all local students self-quarantine for two weeks to slow the spread of the virus. About a third of campus-related cases were linked with parties and social gatherings off campus, according to a statement. The quarantine will last through Sept. 26.
Large events and communal locations have led to outbreaks in the Midwest as well, the New York Times reported. The 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month has been linked to cases in several states. A jail in Wichita, Kansas, fostered the spread of the virus to hundreds of people.
Beyond that, several rural areas in Iowa and North Dakota have seen an increase in cases without obvious links to a college or a mass gathering. Government and health officials are trying to encourage people to continue social distancing and face covering guidelines.
“It’s just been a challenge for us to have to go out there and upset half the citizens who don’t believe or are still not sold that face coverings are critical to the spread of COVID-19,” Greg McDaniel, the city manager of Maryville, Missouri, told the newspaper. Hundreds of cases have been reported at Northwest Missouri State University.
“Face coverings are, unfortunately, a political issue for many,” he said.