More than 70,450 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Friday, the highest figure since July 24, according to a New York Times database. More than 900 new deaths were recorded.
At least nine states set single-day case records on Friday: Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. And as of midday Saturday, Indiana and Ohio had set records.
The virus has also been surging globally: a record 415,000-plus cases on Friday, a record.
Epidemiologists warn that nearly half of the states in the U.S. are seeing surges unlike anything they experienced earlier in the pandemic. Eighteen states and Guam added more cases this week than in any other week. The nationwide seven-day average has increased by nearly 8,000 daily new cases since last Friday.
The virus has been pummeling some of the least populous states in the country, but their relatively low population numbers can make the total number of known cases deceptive. The surges in rural areas, when calculated by infections per person, have been just as severe as the spikes in densely populated cities in the Sun Belt over the summer.
Uncontrolled outbreaks in the Midwest and Mountain West are driving the surge, according to The Times database. Some states with the fastest growth had relatively few cases until recently, and now rural hospitals are strained.
Per capita, North Dakota and South Dakota are adding more new cases than any states have since the start of the pandemic. Wisconsin — which reported more than 4,160 new cases on Friday, a single-day record for the state — has seven of the 10 metropolitan areas in the United States with the highest rates of recent cases.
Other states with large rural areas — including Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, Iowa, Utah, Alaska and Oklahoma — have recently recorded more cases in a seven-day stretch than in any other week of the pandemic.
In the more populous states where case increases are being seen, including Wisconsin and Illinois, the worst numbers are coming not from the largest population centers but from rural counties.