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The New COVID Rise is Hitting These States First

The BA.2 subvariant of COVID really began to make itself known in the U.S.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Over the past week, the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 really began to make itself known in the U.S.—according to the New York Times, all but four states have seen their case numbers rise. On its heels: An even more contagious new subvariant (BA.2.12.1), which is spreading rapidly in one state. These are the five states where the latest COVID surge has made the most impact in recent days. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Rhode Island

Sick woman on couch

Cases per 100,000 residents: 50

Increase in last 14 days: 52%

As of Wednesday, Rhode Island has the nation's highest number of cases per 100,000 residents, according to the New York Times COVID data tracker. Last week, NBC Boston reported that more than half of Rhode Island residents—53%—contracted COVID during the Omicron surge, noting that the CDC isn't sure how long immunity produced by an infection lasts.



tired nurse, burnout

Cases per 100,000 residents: 50

Increase in last 14 days: 20%

Although Vermont ties Rhode Island for the country's highest number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents, WCAX reported Tuesday that only 4% of the state's hospital beds were occupied by people with COVID. State health commissioner Dr. Scott Levine announced that more doses of the antiviral drug Paxlovid would soon be available and encouraged residents to consider their individual risk profile when deciding what public activities to engage in. "Look at your age, look at your underlying medical conditions if you have any, look at who you're living with and who may be vulnerable that you wouldn't want to bring the virus home to," he said.



Doctors and infected patient in quarantine in hospita.

Cases per 100,000 residents: 47

Increase in last 14 days: 89%

Cases in Maine have increased, and so have hospitalizations. On Tuesday, the MaineHealth hospital system told WMTW News that two groups of people are being hospitalized with COVID in this most recent surge: People who are unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated and boosted) and older people who are vaccinated but have compromised immune systems. "This is just going through Maine and the rest of the country and a lot of the world like a brush fire," said Dr. Dora Mills. "COVID has mutated to be incredibly contagious. I'm not sure I've ever seen a virus this contagious." The good news, she said, was the fewer of the people who are hospitalized are severely ill, compared to last January's surge.



Two exhausted and desperate surgeons.

Cases per 100,000 residents: 42

Increase in last 14 days: 35%

"Infections continue to rise in the Bay State while virus hospitalizations surpassed 500 patients for the first time in months," the Boston Herald reported on Tuesday. "The state's average percent positivity is now 5.63%, significantly up from the rate of 1.6% a few weeks ago."


New York


Cases per 100,000 residents: 39

Increase in last 14 days: 26%

In recent days, New York raised its COVID spread level from low to medium, while NBC New York reported Tuesday that an even more contagious new subvariant—BA.2.12.1, which health experts estimate is 27% more contagious than BA.2—now accounts for the majority of cases in the state (about 70%), nearly double the national average. Officials note the new variant does not seem to cause more severe disease.


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael