New York and New Jersey were the two states with the highest rates of people testing positive for COVID-19 over the last week, according to the latest data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has made a comeback across the country since late summer, fueling hospitalizations. This has also brought back calls for stricter measures already implemented at the height of the pandemic, which many Americans hoped had been left behind. Newsweek has put together a list of states with restrictions in place.
About 12.5 percent of COVID-19 tests were positive across the country in the week ending September 16, the most-recent data available on the CDC’s website, down 1.6 percent compared to the previous week.
New York and New Jersey had the highest test positivity last week at 16.1 percent—much above the national average and up 0.9 percent compared to the week before.
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska followed suit, with a positivity rate of 15.4 percent last week, down by 1.2 percent compared to the week before.
On the opposite end of the positivity spectrum were the states of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, which had a positivity rate of 7.9 percent, down by 2.4 percent compared to the week before.
The drop in positivity among Americans on a national level, as reported by the CDC, is good news. However, experts fear that the virus could spread further across the population in the fall and winter at the same time as students return to school and other seasonal illnesses—including colds and the flu—increase, weakening people’s immune systems.
Newsweek has contacted the CDC for comment via email.
Last week, the CDC estimates that there were about 20,538 people hospitalized because of COVID-19, a jump by 7.7 percent compared to the previous week.
The number of hospitalizations, which has been rising since August, has been linked by experts to the emergence of two new variants, EG.5 and BA.2.86. But the overall number of hospitalizations is still considered low by the CDC across 87.93 percent of the country, where these have been dropping.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced the return of free rapid COVID-19 tests mailed to Americans. This program existed during the height of the health emergency but was terminated in June.
Starting on Monday, September 25, people will be able to order four free tests per household through the website covidtest.gov. These, according to the Biden administration, are able to detect the latest variants.
The CDC has also recommended that everyone above the age of 6 months take a booster shot of the updated COVID-19 vaccines this fall and winter. This measure goes further than most other countries in the world, which are prioritizing vaccines for the most-vulnerable categories.