With new coronavirus cases arising in several states across the country, many areas are hitting “pause” on their attempts to reopen. But troubling new data from the COVID Risk Level Map produced by top researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) reveal just how high these cases have increased — suggesting that pausing our re-openings might not be enough.
The map displays one of four color codes for each state to reflect their level of risk— green (on track for containment), yellow (community spread), orange (accelerated spread) and red (tipping point). According to the HGHI map’s key, the red code risk level states are those with at least 25 newly confirmed cases per 100,000 residents each day.
As HGHI researchers explain, “once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again.” Sadly, there are currently 11 states that meet these troubling and grim standards. Read on to see which viral epicenters are heading for a full-on lockdown.
Florida is at the top of the list with 55 new cases per 100,000 residents — the highest per capita new case count in the entire country, according to HGHI statistics. With a record of more than 350,000 cases and more than 4,950 deaths to date, the Sunshine State is looking especially gloomy these days.
Earlier this week, Florida shattered its own one-day case record with well over 13,000 new cases in one day. While the New York Times reports that figures have declined slightly since then, and several counties have already rolled back their re-opening attempts, the state is likely to push towards a larger-scale lockdown in the near future.
Despite early progress in containing the virus, Louisiana has taken a turn for the worse. According to the HGHI database, Louisiana has 44 new cases per 100,000 residents each day, and Newsweek has a total death count of 3,375. This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a mask mandate, shut down all bars, and also called for three days of fasting and prayer in response to the current state emergency.
These are the first steps in going back on re-openings and drawing attention to the crisis, but people may expect more restrictive measures if the case count continues to increase.
In line with Louisiana, Arizona also has 42 new cases per 100,000 residents each day. According to the New York Times database, at least 143,643 coronavirus cases have occurred in Arizona, and as of Sunday afternoon at least 2,763 people have died.
In a recent press conference on Jul. 16, Gov. Doug Ducey acknowledged that positive test results are going down for the first time in a few weeks—”the direct effect of decisions Arizonanas have made over the past week.” Referring to those noticeable improvements resulting from increased restrictions, he encouraged his constituency, “we will see more of that if we do more.”
4. South Carolina
South Carolina has recently become the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, with 37 new cases per 100,000 residents every day. With almost 70,000 new cases and 1,155 deaths to date, only the three previous states on this list have exceeded the severity of their current surge.
Perhaps most surprisingly, their case numbers have risen by an incredible 999% after efforts to re-open their economy. COVID Act Now has labeled the state as a “critical” hospital overload risk on the grounds that its ICU occupancy is currently at 81 percent capacity.
Alabama is currently seeing 36 new cases per 100,000 residents each day, according to data from the HGHI map. During a press conference on June 30, Gov. Kay Ivey added no new restrictions to the state’s coronavirus policy, following a month-long rise in case counts.
COVID Act Now reports that “on average, each person in Alabama with COVID is infecting 1.20 other people. As such, the total number of active cases in Alabama is growing at an unsustainable rate. If this trend continues, the hospital system may become overloaded.” In fact, their efforts to contact trace are dismally unsuccessful, with just 2% of positive cases being traced effectively.
According to HGHI reports, Texas has seen 35 new cases per 100,000 residents daily. As more than 29 million people live in the state, this means that the risk of infection is rapidly increasing. In addition to the difficulty of controlling the virus in such a large state, The Texas Tribune notes that hotspots have become “moving targets” that are probably the worst in the southernmost counties.
Four out of five residents live in the Red Zone, places with rapid surge rates, and as of Friday, only three ICU beds were open in a 12-county area serving more than 630,000 people.
If you’re thinking about booking a trip to Las Vegas sometime soon, you can go ahead and cancel it. Currently, Nevada is seeing 34 new cases per 100,000 residents every day, and according to The Daily Beast, their hospital system is “reaching the breaking point.”
Four weeks after the re-opening of casinos, Gov. Steve Sisolak started scaling back those plans by implementing a new mask mandate and closing bars in seven counties, including Clark County, home to Las Vegas. However, this has not discouraged tourists from visiting Sin City, which accounts for over 29,000 of the state’s almost 36,000 total cases.
The Peach State has seen 30 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, according to HGHI data — a dramatic uptick brought on by the state’s re-opening in late April. With more than 3,000 people testing positive every day and a total of 3,100 confirmed deaths in the state, Georgia continues to set new daily records for the highest single-day count.
Around the same time, the state is currently undergoing a significant ideological split regarding precautions such as masks and preventing the re-opening of the state. Politico reported a “legal showdown” between Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the controversial mayor’s mask mandate.
Having contained the coronavirus outbreak fairly well through mid-June, Mississippi took an unexpected turn for the worse as the state re-opened businesses. According to HGHI information, there are now an average of 29 new cases every day per 100,000 residents.
The Mississippi Department of Health reports that, in response to the recent surges, 13 counties have been directed to obey newly enhanced restrictions, including mask mandates, compulsory social distancing in business settings, COVID screenings at the beginning of work shifts, and limitations on social gatherings. Further lockdown measures are likely to take place in the future of the state.
With 30 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, Idaho smashed its single-day record earlier this week, with 691 cases in one day. While the figures pale in comparison to more heavily populated states, this suggests a relatively high per capita rate of cases. Most of these cases are currently located in Ada County, home to Boise, the state’s capital.
Tennessee rolled out its re-opening plan in April, and case counts have been rising since that day. The state is now seeing an average of 28 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, raising its overall case count to more than 75,000 according to The New York Times.
In addition, Gov. Bill Lee recently extended the state of emergency declaration and numerous containment efforts until August 29. On Jul. 3, Lee approved an executive order granting mayors from all 95 counties the ability to issue mask mandates. It may be the first of many tougher restrictions to come.