Coronavirus cases in US Midwest shatter records, put a strain on hospitals

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COVID-19 shattered records for new cases in the US Midwest, straining hospitals, and will darken New York’s Broadway theaters until June, a decision the Actors’ Equity Association union called “difficult but responsible.”

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The Broadway closure that began in March had been due to end in early January until the Broadway League industry group announced the extension on Friday.

A dozen Midwestern states together reported a record 16,807 new cases on Thursday, according to a Reuters analysis.

The surge is most extreme in the northern Midwest, where weather is the coldest. Illinois reported its biggest increase since May 14 on Thursday.

The number of Midwest COVID-19 patients hospitalized hit a record high on Thursday for the fourth day in a row and now tops 8,000. Nationally, nearly 34,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalized, the highest since Sept. 4.

Michigan’s hospitalizations reached 918 on Thursday, up from 687 the previous day. Wisconsin is opening a field hospital outside Milwaukee with the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized hitting a new record on Thursday.

While deaths nationally decline, health experts say they are a lagging indicator that usually rises weeks after cases surge.

Cases are rising in New York, a city that early in the pandemic endured the world’s most rampant outbreak. To curb a second wave, the city has closed businesses and schools in neighborhood hot spots, drawing protests from a small contingent of Orthodox Jews.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state has been steadily creeping up from the middle to upper 400s last month to 779 on Thursday, while the infection rate, which had been below 1 percent for most of the late summer was above 1.1 percent this week.

But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said one-fifth of the state’s infections are in a handful of “red zones” that account for only 2.8 percent of the population. Excluding those areas, where infection rates were 6.6 percent the state’s rate was 0.9 percent, he said.

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