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Fauci says Midwestern states should be on alert this Labor Day

Fauci says Midwestern states should be on alert this Labor Day
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The nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUS passes single-day record for new COVID-19 cases Overnight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight Black Americans don't trust a COVID-19 vaccine — they have valid reasons why MORE, said Midwestern states in particular should be vigilant during the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with Bloomberg published Thursday.

Fauci urged everyone to follow physical distancing guidelines, wear masks and avoid large crowds.

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Fauci’s comments about the high levels of virus still circulating strike a more concerned tone than that of President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE, who has tried to project optimism and downplay the scale of the virus.

Fauci has previously warned that past holiday weekends led to spikes in cases as people gather and let down their guard.

Cases rose dramatically following the holiday weekends of Memorial Day and July Fourth, and officials do not want a repeat. Memorial Day marked the beginning of when many states decided to reopen, despite not having contained the spread of the coronavirus. Cases peaked shortly after the July Fourth holiday. 

The Midwest region was spared from the initial wave of infection that decimated the Northeast, and then again missed the spikes that hit the Sun Belt. 

But while case numbers in the hot spots in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California have started to fall, coronavirus cases in the Midwest are rising. Since Aug. 23, six Midwest states saw single-day records for new cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Nationwide, the number of new cases per day has fallen somewhat from the peak of around 70,000 per day in late July to around 40,000, but the drop has stalled and started to plateau.

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Most of the drop can be attributed to the improvement in Sun Belt states, but that has been offset by the Midwest.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, 28 percent of all nationwide cases in the past week have occurred in the Midwest, with an average of about 10,000 new cases every day. 

Those numbers aren't nearly as high as what the Southern states saw, but the populations are also much smaller. 

It's also unclear what specifically is behind the rise in cases, but some of the largest outbreaks have been tied to students returning to colleges.  

In South Dakota, the number of daily new cases per million people is 354, the highest rate of new infections in the country, according to Covid Exit Strategy. 

The state also featured the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month, which state health officials have linked to more than 100 cases of COVID-19.