The U.S. hit another coronavirus milestone late Wednesday, as the death toll crossed the 250,000 mark.
According to NBC News, the coronavirus death rate in the U.S. has increased 42% since early October to an average of 1,167 deaths per week. The news comes a year and a day after the world’s first coronavirus infection was reported in Wuhan, China.
All 50 states, plus Washington D.C. are seeing cases rise in the last week, but the biggest rise has been in the Midwest and Great Plains. North and South Dakota have had the most new coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths when adjusted for population. Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Idaho aren’t far behind.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) has mostly aligned herself with President Donald Trump when it comes to the coronavirus, questioning the use of face masks and refusing to institute restrictions. Now, the virus has a stranglehold on the state, averaging 1,440 new cases per day over the last seven days.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, has resisted a mask mandate since the pandemic began, but things are starting to get out of control in the state. First, Burgum ordered healthcare workers who are infected with the virus but are asymptomatic to continue to report to work—and work in coronavirus units.
On Nov. 13, Burgum signed an executive order establishing a mask mandate and a 10 p.m. curfew on all bars and restaurants in the state. According to the Great Forks Herald, the state had three chief health offers resign this summer due to the state’s lack of and refusal to institute restrictions.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon asked residents to be responsible and protect themselves over instituting restrictions, saying in October “it’s up to us.” However, that plan backfired. According to the state’s Department of Health, the number of coronavirus admissions, total hospital availability, and total ICU bed availability are all “concerning.”
Twelve counties in the state now have have mask mandates.
Rural areas aren’t the only ones struggling with the virus. After a spring that saw more more than 500 people dying per day, New York City got the state’s positivity rate under 2% for most of the summer. However, the rate has now hit 3% and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced public schools will be closed and all students will be learning remotely at least through the end of the month.
While all 50 states battle the virus, federal leadership isn’t helping. President Trump has said nothing about the rising numbers, focusing instead on hanging on to his quickly fading hopes of reelection, despite him and a healthy portion of his staff catching the virus. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden is stuck on the sidelines, assembling a team and drafting plans that he can’t implement yet.