The United States saw a 27% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended July 5 compared to the previous seven days, with 24 states reporting positivity test rates above the level that the World Health Organization has flagged as concerning.
Nationally, 7.5% of diagnostic tests came back positive last week, up from 7% the prior week and 5% two weeks ago, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.
The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be a cause for concern because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.
Arizona’s positivity test rate was 26%, up from 24% last week; Florida’s rose to 19% up from 16% and Mississippi was 17% up from 13%, according to the analysis.
Testing rose by 7.5% last week and set a new record high with over 721,000 tests performed on July 3.
Deaths, which health experts say are a lagging indicator, continued to fall nationally to 3,447 people in the week ended July 5. A handful of states, however, have reported increases in deaths for at least two straight weeks including Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.
Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have risen every week for five straight weeks. Thirty-three states, mostly in the West and South, reported more new cases of COVID-19 last week compared to the previous week, the analysis found.
Many states have temporarily halted the reopening of their economies or ordered some businesses to close. California, Kansas, Oregon and West Virginia have become the latest states to mandate wearing masks in public, but at least 30, including Florida, have no statewide mandate.
Cases continue to decline in Northeast states, but some Midwest states are seeing increases again, including Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
New Hampshire, where President Donald Trump plans an outdoor rally on Saturday, posted a near 30% drop in new infections to 140 last week, the biggest percentage drop in the nation, according to the analysis.
Notes: As testing numbers are not reported in a standardized format nationally, states vary in the way they record testing figures. Some include all tests performed while others only count the number of individuals tested. The COVID-Tracking Project only includes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which detect current coronavirus infections. Antibody tests, which may indicate a past exposure to the virus, are excluded from the overall count if they are reported separately.
*The state of Mississippi did not report data from June 18-21. The weekly change is calculated using data reported on June 22.
**A spike observed in deaths in New Jersey and nationally in late June is due to New Jersey including over 1,800 probable deaths from earlier this year.
Michigan began including probable cases on June 4. The Covid Tracking Project initially recorded the data as an overall increase but later updated their historical data after Michigan provided detailed probable cases.
Florida’s data excludes non-resident deaths.
New York data does not include probable deaths from New York City; A spike observed in Wyoming in late April is due to the inclusion of probable cases.
Source: Reuters analysis of COVID Tracking Project data
Editing by Christine Chan and Tiffany Wu