BACK

What do rising COVID-19 cases during the fall of 2020 in U.S. Midwestern states mean for other states, like Florida?

This article was published on
April 21, 2021

This explainer is more than 90 days old. Some of the information might be out of date or no longer relevant. Browse our homepage for up to date content or request information about a specific topic from our team of scientists.

Without a distinct, explicit, and obvious uptick in travel pattern volumes, and access to data about those travel pattern volumes, it is not possible to predict how the number of cases in one state or geographical region, such as the U.S. Midwest, will impact COVID-19 infection rates in another state or region, such as Florida. Known mass migration from one region to another could help epidemiologists predict how COVID-19 may spread, but U.S. travel tends to be spontaneous and multidirectional, with individuals traveling across and between different regions, rather than traveling as a large group from one specific region to another. Though widespread travel and transmission patterns are difficult to predict, we can reasonably conclude that a high volume of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States means that the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 in the country is high, compared to other parts of the world. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health experts continue to recommend that people wash their hands, wear masks (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask for increased protection), avoid crowds (especially indoors), practice social distancing, and stay home when possible. Out of the top five states that have seen COVID-19 cases rise the fastest during the first couple weeks of October 2020, four states (Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota) are in the Midwest. Some health care workers and public health researchers have referred to the rising cases in the Midwest during the fall of 2020 as a "third wave," after the summer wave and the initial wave of COVID-19 cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts have warned that states across the U.S. could see another wave of COVID-19 cases, particularly with current case numbers remaining high in several places, colder weather setting in and coinciding with what is typically the annual influenza (flu) season, and people starting to become fatigued with maintaining pandemic prevention measures. Simultaneously in Florida, 5,558 new COVID-19 cases were reported on October 22, 2020, which is one of the highest single-day increases that the state has seen since mid-August 2020 (the only days with higher numbers in the fall of 2020 are thought to be due to irregularities in reporting). The reported increase brings Florida's statewide total to 768,091 COVID-19 cases and over 16,470 deaths related to COVID-19 as of October 22, 2020. Following the Florida Governor's decision on September 25, 2020 to move to Phase 3 of their reopening plans, including fully open bars and restaurants, public health experts have been warning that Florida could see a rise in COVID-19 cases and that this could also coincide with the anticipated flu season.

Without a distinct, explicit, and obvious uptick in travel pattern volumes, and access to data about those travel pattern volumes, it is not possible to predict how the number of cases in one state or geographical region, such as the U.S. Midwest, will impact COVID-19 infection rates in another state or region, such as Florida. Known mass migration from one region to another could help epidemiologists predict how COVID-19 may spread, but U.S. travel tends to be spontaneous and multidirectional, with individuals traveling across and between different regions, rather than traveling as a large group from one specific region to another. Though widespread travel and transmission patterns are difficult to predict, we can reasonably conclude that a high volume of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States means that the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 in the country is high, compared to other parts of the world. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health experts continue to recommend that people wash their hands, wear masks (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask for increased protection), avoid crowds (especially indoors), practice social distancing, and stay home when possible. Out of the top five states that have seen COVID-19 cases rise the fastest during the first couple weeks of October 2020, four states (Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota) are in the Midwest. Some health care workers and public health researchers have referred to the rising cases in the Midwest during the fall of 2020 as a "third wave," after the summer wave and the initial wave of COVID-19 cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts have warned that states across the U.S. could see another wave of COVID-19 cases, particularly with current case numbers remaining high in several places, colder weather setting in and coinciding with what is typically the annual influenza (flu) season, and people starting to become fatigued with maintaining pandemic prevention measures. Simultaneously in Florida, 5,558 new COVID-19 cases were reported on October 22, 2020, which is one of the highest single-day increases that the state has seen since mid-August 2020 (the only days with higher numbers in the fall of 2020 are thought to be due to irregularities in reporting). The reported increase brings Florida's statewide total to 768,091 COVID-19 cases and over 16,470 deaths related to COVID-19 as of October 22, 2020. Following the Florida Governor's decision on September 25, 2020 to move to Phase 3 of their reopening plans, including fully open bars and restaurants, public health experts have been warning that Florida could see a rise in COVID-19 cases and that this could also coincide with the anticipated flu season.

Publication

What our experts say

Without a distinct, explicit, and obvious uptick in travel pattern volumes, and access to data about those travel pattern volumes, it is not possible to predict how the number of cases in one state or geographical region, such as the U.S. Midwest, will impact COVID-19 infection rates in another state or region, such as Florida.

Known mass migration from one region to another could help epidemiologists predict how COVID-19 may spread, but U.S. travel tends to be spontaneous and multidirectional, with individuals traveling across and between different regions, rather than traveling as a large group from one specific region to another.

Though widespread travel and transmission patterns are difficult to predict, we can reasonably conclude that a high volume of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States means that the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 in the country is high, compared to other parts of the world. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health experts continue to recommend that people wash their hands, wear masks (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask for increased protection), avoid crowds (especially indoors), practice social distancing, and stay home when possible.

Out of the top five states that have seen COVID-19 cases rise the fastest during the first couple weeks of October 2020, four states (Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota) are in the Midwest. Some health care workers and public health researchers have referred to the rising cases in the Midwest during the fall of 2020 as a "third wave," after the summer wave and the initial wave of COVID-19 cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts have warned that states across the U.S. could see another wave of COVID-19 cases, particularly with current case numbers remaining high in several places, colder weather setting in and coinciding with what is typically the annual influenza (flu) season, and people starting to become fatigued with maintaining pandemic prevention measures.

Simultaneously in Florida, 5,558 new COVID-19 cases were reported on October 22, 2020, which is one of the highest single-day increases that the state has seen since mid-August 2020 (the only days with higher numbers in the fall of 2020 are thought to be due to irregularities in reporting). The reported increase brings Florida's statewide total to 768,091 COVID-19 cases and over 16,470 deaths related to COVID-19 as of October 22, 2020. Following the Florida Governor's decision on September 25, 2020 to move to Phase 3 of their reopening plans, including fully open bars and restaurants, public health experts have been warning that Florida could see a rise in COVID-19 cases and that this could also coincide with the anticipated flu season.

Context and background

As the Northern Hemisphere enters a colder season and some people get tired of maintaining preventative measures during the pandemic, public health experts have warned about potential new waves of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Several U.S. states have already seen major surges in COVID-19 infection during the fall of 2020, while some other U.S. states are starting to see alarming increases that could indicate another upcoming surge. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to discourage non-essential travel between states, especially ahead of the upcoming fall and winter holidays when larger groups tend to gather and colder weather leads to people spending more time together indoors. Beyond considering the risks of transmitting COVID-19 from a state with higher rates of infection to a state with lower rates of infection, it is also important to reduce the community spread of infection within a state by maintaining preventative measures (ex. avoiding non-essential travel and outings, wearing masks, washing hands and high-touch surfaces, and keeping physical distance).

Resources

  1. COVID-19 ravages US Midwest as cases, deaths surge (Al Jazeera)
  2. A Third Coronavirus Surge Has Taken Root in the U.S. (NYT)
  3. Five U.S. States Where COVID-19 Cases Are Rising Fastest (Newsweek)
  4. Florida adds 5,558 coronavirus cases, the highest daily record since August (Tampa Bay Times)
  5. Fauci Calls Florida's Decision to Fully Reopen Bars and Restaurants ‘Very Concerning' (NBC Miami)
  6. Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic (U.S. CDC)
  7. Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021 (U.S. CDC)

Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

No items found.

Q&A

No items found.