It was only a short time ago that the entire country was under some form of lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But as states across the U.S. began reopening—some much earlier and faster than others—new epicenters of the pandemic have emerged, with hotspots spanning east to west. To show where COVID risk level is the highest, researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) created an interactive map. The map gives each state one of four color distinctions to indicate their risk—green (on track for containment), yellow (community spread), orange (accelerated spread), and red (tipping point). According to the HGHI, “once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again.”
On July 11, Ashish Jha, MD, the director of the HGHI, tweeted that the “data on COVID in our nation is very concerning,” as the red states on the HGHI map posted troubling numbers. Jha stated that he wasn’t sure what would “turn it around” besides a “fully enforced mask order” and the closing of bars, clubs, restaurants, and all but essential retail. According to their numbers, these are the seven states that Jha says are “heading towards full shutdown.” And for more places in danger of sliding into critical territory.
Arizona has not had a good run in the news lately. According to the HGHI data, the state is seeing nearly 48 new cases per day per 100,000 people. The state is also facing a supremely high positive test rate at about 26 percent, which indicates not enough testing is being down, and a critical shortage of ICU beds, according to Covid Act Now. The dire situation has led Arizona hospitals to institute “crisis standards of care,” which forces doctors to triage patients and decide who will receive full care based on their likelihood of survival.
While Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey did order gyms, bars, movie theaters, and water parks to shutter again for at least 30 days on June 29, Arizona’s numbers are still surging and further lockdown may be necessary. And for more on states that are suffering, check out The 2 States Where Coronavirus Is Spreading Fastest Will Surprise You.
Unfortunately, the news coming out of the Sunshine State has been anything but sunny lately. Besides showing 46 new cases per day per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI data, Florida saw the highest ever single-day of coronavirus cases for any state on July 12. Florida’s 15,299 new positive cases that day surpassed New York’s previous record set in April. Coincidentally, the news came the same weekend Disney World reopened to guests.
A couple of weeks prior, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered bars to stop serving alcohol on site. And while the mayor of Miami-Dade County has rolled back reopening, a further statewide shutdown could be coming.
Louisiana is one of the states that saw an early victory against the spread of the virus erased after reopening. The state is seeing about 40 new cases per day per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI data. Covid Act Now scores their infection rate of 1.26 as “high,” and the state saw their new cases double in just a week recently.
Now, a return to lockdown might already be in motion: On July 13, a statewide mandate closing bars and requiring face masks went into effect. And for more states that now require masks, These 4 States Just Made Face Masks Mandatory.
4. South Carolina
Recently, South Carolina was given the grim designation of holding the third highest COVID-19 rate in the entire world when compared with other countries and states. HGHI reported a rate of about 33 new cases per day per 100,000 people in the state, along with a critically high risk of hospital overload and a low number of contact tracers, reports Covid Act Now. Overall, South Carolina has seen over 60,000 total cases and nearly 1,000 deaths, The New York Times reports. Its cases have gone up a staggering 999 percent since reopening.
The Lone Star State may be one of the few places arresting people who refuse to self isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, but Texas’ coronavirus figures right now are still alarming. There are about 31 new cases per day per 100,000 people in the state, according to the HGHI, with a critically high risk of hospital overload and a dangerously low number of contact tracers, according to Covid Act Now. Short of a state shutdown, officials in certain hard-hit counties recently began telling citizens to “shelter in place” again.
Gov. Greg Abbott shut bars back down and scaled back restaurant capacity to 50 percent on June 26 and when numbers still surged, he also issued a statewide mask mandate on July 2. “If we do not all join together and unite in this one cause for a short period of time of adopting masks … it will lead to the necessity of having to close Texas back down,” he recently said. And for more on Texas, check out This Is the “Only Way” to Avoid Another Lockdown, Texas Governor Warns.
Georgia was one of the quickest states to reopen, but since dropping their stay-at-home orders on April 30, they’ve seen their coronavirus new case numbers pick up. HGHI reports that there are nearly 29 new cases per day per 100,000 people, with a high infection rate and positive test rate that is trending upwards, according to Covid Act Now. That might mean they’re headed for another state shutdown. And for more states on the verge, check out These 10 States’ Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Now “Critical,” Experts Say.
Alabama has roughly 28 new cases per day per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI data. But a growing shortage of ICU beds, a high infection rate, and a low number of contact tracers has earned Alabama a “critical” ranking from Covid Act Now. Local health officials recently warned that the northern part of the state in particular was on the verge of “going off the cliff” due to surging numbers. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.