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Virus Expert Predicts These States Next Hotspots

The next COVID surge may happen here.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus continues to spread across America, but some states are now getting hit harder than others. "If there is any good news," says virus expert Michael Osterholm, "it comes in the form of at least temporary relief from previous hot spots—Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, South Carolina, et cetera.—but at the same time, activity seems to be creeping North." He describes the spread as "viral lava" and made a list of where "future hotspots might emerge." Read on to see which states made the list—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



sad young female doctor or nurse wearing face protective mask for protection

"Some medical providers in Montana are suing the state over a law that bans companies from requiring vaccinations for employees. The lawsuit comes as the state deals with a record number of COVID patients in the ICU," says KRTV. "We're just… we're bursting at the seams right now," said Jamiee Belsky, an emergency physician at Billings Clinic who, said KRTV, "can barely keep up with the crush of new COVID patients. The ICU at Billings Clinic is running at 150% and the hospital has built makeshift rooms along hallways and called in the Montana National Guard for support."


North Dakota

Female doctor or nurse trying to give shot or vaccine against virus to a scared patient.

"After initially rolling out one of the nation's most efficient vaccine campaigns last winter, North Dakota has slipped to the back of the pack this year. With just over 50% of its eligible population fully vaccinated, the state now ranks in the bottom 10 nationally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," reports InForum. "And in the last two months, virus cases in the state have mounted again — a trend that has mirrored the surge of last fall — surpassing 4,000 active cases this week for the first time since December. This time, however, the brunt of the outbreak has fallen on one half of the population, leaving experts to conclude that this renewed public health crisis could have been avoided."



Nurse with thermometer measures fever on patient child in hospital bed, wearing protective visor and surgical mask.

"Wisconsin hospital workers say the number of COVID-19 cases in children continues to rise steadily, as well as the number of pediatric patients hospitalized with the virus.

Children's Wisconsin released COVID-19 trend data Wednesday, noting that a high volume of kids keep testing positive throughout the state and at the hospital. During the week of Sept. 22-28, 12 pediatric patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. This is two more than the previous week and seven more than two weeks before," reports NBC 15. "Dr. Michael Gutzeit, chief medical officer, urged families to practice COVID-19 mitigation policies to stop coronavirus and other viruses." "I encourage families and school districts to reinforce the use of masks to decrease the spread of viruses, especially as we see a continued rise in COVID-19 and rhinovirus," Dr. Gutzeit said. "Masks are our best tool for limiting disruptions to the school year."

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Pediatrician doctor examining sick child in face mask

"Munson Healthcare says COVID-19 cases are rising, especially among children," reports the News-Review.  "Our percent positivity rate (in Northern Michigan) is higher than the state. This is the first time we are seeing that," Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson's chief medical officer, told the website. "Nefcy said the percent positivity rate for the region through Sept. 26 was 13.1%, compared to 8.7% for the state." "One of our concerns is pediatric cases," noted Dr. Nefcy. "The state is reporting they saw a pretty sharp uptick in the number of pediatric cases of COVID-19 and as a result in pediatric hospitalizations." 

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Parts of the Northeast

Portrait of nurse and man with face masks

"If we look to the far Northeast at Maine, which has seen an 18% increase in cases over the last 14 days, Pennsylvania, 10% increase, New Hampshire, 14% increase Vermont 35% increase. We have to ask ourselves what will happen in those areas. Will this in fact, end up basically peaking also in the next few days to weeks and seeing the continued diminishing surge occur?" said Osterholm.

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How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.


Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek