Four Midwestern states had the highest rates of COVID-19 test positivity in the week through September 23, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some 11.6 percent of COVID-19 tests in the U.S. were positive that week, down a little from a week earlier. The CDC’s map showed four states had higher test positivity than anywhere else in the county—Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa had 15 percent of tests come back positive.
States that had topped the list in terms of test positivity over the summer—Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas—now have test positivity at just over 10 percent. Those at the other end of the spectrum had at least 7 percent test positivity. They include Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
While the severity of the COVID pandemic has faded, there are still hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations across the country each week.
While hospital admissions have started to drop after a spike over the summer, a dozen states have seen a “substantial” increase in admissions, according to the latest data, with Connecticut topping the list.
The CDC in September endorsed updated COVID shots for everyone six months and older, with experts concerned that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people.
“While rates now seem to be plateauing, we are entering October, which is the typical start of the respiratory virus season,” a CDC spokesperson told Newsweek last week.
“Even if hospitalization rates level off for a few weeks, they could increase in the coming weeks, and prevention is the best approach.”
The CDC says those who recently had COVID may consider delaying getting the new shot by three months as reinfection is less likely in the weeks to months after being sick. However, the CDC advises taking into account certain factors to get the shot sooner rather than later, including personal risk of severe illness, risk of illness in a loved one or close contact and local COVID hospital admission level.
About 2 million Americans have reportedly gotten the new shot in the two weeks since its approval amid a messy rollout that included barriers from insurance companies.
After reports found that some patients were being charged as much as $190 for a COVID shot at pharmacies, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued a public statement directed at “the health care payer community.”
“We should be completely aligned in our goals of getting everyone the updated COVID-19 vaccine,” he wrote. “With claims rejections in the thousands each day, we are missing opportunities to save lives together.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has said that vaccines will remain free for most U.S. residents through the Vaccines for Children Program, Children’s Health Insurance Program, most commercial insurance, Medicare and Medicaid programs. For those who are uninsured or underinsured, the CDC’s Bridge Access Program will provide free coverage.
A spokesperson for HHS told Newsweek that while there had been reports of “unexpected coverage denials at the point of service,” these were being addressed by the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.