White House coronavirus task force warns of
rapid spread in 48 states and D.C.
By April Simpson, The Center for Public Integrity
WASHINGTON D.C.–Vermont joined the 47 other states considered to be in the “red zone” for new coronavirus cases this week, according to the latest White House coronavirus task force reports to governors and senior state officials — a dangerous trend as many Americans prepare to gather with relatives for Thanksgiving.
Hawaii and Maine are now the only two states outside of the red zone, seeing fewer than 101 new cases last week per 100,000 residents. Thirty-six states are in the red zone for new deaths per 100,000 residents.
“There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties,” the White House task force told states Nov. 22.
The White House reports are not made public, but the Center for Public Integrity is collecting and publishing them.
The task force recommendations include conducting antigen testing of people with no symptoms, wearing masks in public at all times, reducing capacity for “public and private indoor spaces” and educating people on the risks of any unmasked interactions indoors with those outside their household.
That’s precisely the type of interaction that people visiting relatives for Thanksgiving will have this week.
“The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive, focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals,” the White House said. “This must be combined with significant behavior change of all Americans.”
States with aggressive mitigation efforts are beginning to see an impact even as the weather cools, the task force said in its reports. “However, in many areas of the country, mitigation efforts are inadequate or too recently implemented to see a significant impact. All states and all counties must flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.”
Maryland, for example, saw a 49% increase in its rate of new COVID-19 cases and a 53% increase in the rate of COVID-19 deaths from the previous week, according to the state’s report.
“Maryland is showing alarming signs of a viral surge,” the task force said.
The states in the red zone for cases in this week’s report (meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the week prior), in order of severity:
1. North Dakota
3. South Dakota
10. New Mexico
14. Rhode Island
27. West Virginia
31. New Jersey
39. North Carolina
40. South Carolina
41. New Hampshire
44. New York
47. Washington, D.C.
The states in the red zone for test positivity in this week’s report (meaning more than 10 percent of tests in the state were positive in the week prior):
9. South Dakota
10. New Mexico
19. North Dakota
28. South Carolina
This article was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C.