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April 21, 2021, 4:22 p.m. EDT

Old U.S. COVID-19 hot spots are the new hot spots

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By Taylor Umlauf, and Josh Ulick

The recent rise in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has largely been driven by a handful of states, many of them the same places that first emerged as hot spots a year ago. Through Monday, about 75% of the previous week’s new cases in the U.S. came from Michigan, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Covid-19 cases and the rate of new cases per 100,000 people are resurging in several states that, for long stretches, had kept the pathogen relatively at bay. Outside of the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey haven’t seen levels this high during the pandemic. And outside of that same holiday period, New York hasn’t had this many new cases since spring, and Florida not since the summer.

Public-health officials and epidemiologists say the increasing caseloads in many parts of the country can be attributed to a constellation of factors, including the spread of more transmissible variants; a rise in infections among younger, often unvaccinated, people; relaxed prevention efforts and loosened restrictions on indoor dining and masking; as well as pandemic fatigue.

A Familiar Pattern

Following a sharp drop from the deadly fall surge, newly reported Covid-19 cases have remained elevated across the U.S. But some states have seen cases jump back higher again. They seem to follow a familiar pattern. When cases reached their first peak in mid-April 2020, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York were leading that surge.

An expanded version of this article appears on WSJ.com.

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