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Midwestern states see drop in new COVID-19 cases

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Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 6:36 PM CST
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(AP) - After a punishing fall that left hospitals struggling, some Midwestern states are seeing a decline in new coronavirus cases. But the signs of improvement are offset by the infection’s accelerating spread on both coasts.

States including Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have seen a decrease in the numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19.

A week ago, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 dashboard reported 1,476 new COVID-19 cases; Monday, DHHS reported 483. Similarly, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported more than 2,000 new cases on Dec. 8; yesterday, IDPH reported 663 new cases.

In Kansas, the dropoff was even more drastic, with the Department of Health and Environment dashboard reporting 1,975 new cases a week ago, 126 on Sunday, and only seven yesterday. In Michigan, the health department dashboard reported more than 4,600 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 8, but only 159 today.

But the number of deaths and hospitalizations seems to be holding to the same levels in Nebraska: 787 were hospitalized with COVID-19 a week ago, compared to 693 reported on Monday. The state added 41 to its COVID-19 death toll a week ago, and 45 yesterday. But IDPB reported a sharper decline, from 410 COVID-19 deaths on Dec. 8 to 107 today.

About 100 fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported in Iowa in a week’s time, declining from 632 on Dec. 8 to 538 reported today. Kansas, on the other hand, is seeing a sharper drop, reporting 1,190 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Dec. 8, compared to 617 on Monday.

Nationwide, the death toll has topped 300,000, with more than 16 million confirmed infections. On average, the U.S. is seeing about 2,400 deaths and over 215,000 new cases per day. An influential model from the University of Washington says deaths could total 502,000 by April 1, even with a vaccine.

In a call with governors this week, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx said the progress in Midwestern states is being offset by a “deteriorating situation” on both coasts.

Nationwide, the number of people in the hospital with the virus has hit an all-time high of more than 110,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

In California, for example, the supply of beds in intensive care units is dwindling as new cases average more than 31,000 a day.

“We have reached case counts that exceed all previous records,” said Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County public health director. “It is imperative that each individual take action now and stay home. We are reaching a point where we can see on the horizon our health care system being overrun.”

In New York City, officials halted indoor dining at restaurants Monday as the number of infections continued to climb. State and city officials have warned that a broader shutdown might be necessary if things keep getting worse.

“We cannot let this virus keep growing, especially at a moment where we are finally getting the vaccine and can turn the corner,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.