Midwest heat wave expected to persist this week

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA | July 19, 2011 | 3:14 AM EDT

An unidentified fan wipes his head as another covers his with a sign between innings of the Minnesota Twins baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, during the first of a doubleheader Monday, July 18, 2011 in Minneapolis. As a heat wave consumed the Midwest Monday, the heat index midday was at 106-degrees. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

HORIZON CITY, Texas (AP) — The high temperatures gripping much of the Midwest are nearly certain to persist through the week, and forecasters say the extreme discomfort will soon spread to the East Coast.

The misery was widespread Monday, with the worst conditions blanketing a broad band from Texas to Minnesota and Dakotas. Seventeen states issued heat watches, warnings or advisories.

The heat index easily surpassed 100 degrees in many places, including 126 in Newton, Iowa; 120 in Mitchell, S.D.; and 119 in Madison, Minn.

But few people are hit as hard as the poor.

In Oklahoma, for example, applications from elderly and low-income residents are pouring in for help to pay utility bills. And Chicago officials have opened six cooling centers, many of them in lower-income neighborhoods, along with hundreds of air-conditioned public buildings.