Coronavirus and Inequality

Published — November 10, 2020

42 states are now in the red zone for coronavirus cases, White House says

Jon O'Brien is tested at the Utah National Guard's mobile testing site for COVID-19 Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The task force is raising alarm about hospital capacity and urging widespread testing.


All but eight states are now in the red zone for COVID-19 cases, the White House coronavirus task force said in new reports issued Tuesday.

The Dakotas and Wisconsin again this week led the nation in cases per capita, with Iowa claiming the fourth slot.

The reports, which are not made public by the Trump administration, are sent to governors weekly. The Center for Public Integrity is collecting and publishing them. President Donald Trump’s administration will be in charge of leading the federal response to the pandemic until Inauguration Day, through what many experts are already predicting will be a gruesome winter.

The new reports from the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, underlined that the coronavirus pandemic is not getting better, despite Trump’s insistence that the country is “rounding the turn.”

“There is continued, accelerating community spread across the top half of the country, where temperatures have cooled and Americans have moved indoors,” the task force wrote. “Also shown is continued, significant deterioration in the Sunbelt as mitigation efforts were decreased over the past 6 weeks, leading to the most diffuse spread experienced to date.”

The task force also issued its strongest endorsement yet of widespread, regular testing for the general population, even when individuals show no symptoms.

“All red and orange counties must begin proactive testing of 18-40 year-old community members,” the White House told New Mexico. “Requiring use only in symptomatic individuals is preventing adequate testing and control of the pandemic.”

The task force reports contain little data about hospital capacity, but at least two of them this week contained notes of alarm. “Minnesota is seeing a continued dramatic rise in cases and test positivity that will continue to lead to increasing hospitalizations and deaths,” the task force wrote in one report. “New hospital admissions in New Mexico continue to rise and capacity is under continual threat,” it wrote in another.

Red zone states from the Nov. 8 White House Task Force report.
The Nov. 8 reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force included a ranking of states based on their rates of new cases per population. (Screenshot of report)

Twenty states are now in the White House’s red zone for percentage of positive tests, meaning more than 10 percent of tests are coming back positive, and 27 are in the red zone for deaths, meaning they had more than two deaths per 100,000 residents in the past week.

Aside from its weekly reports, the White House task force has been mostly “dormant” and riven by personnel clashes, the Washington Post reported last month. Trump directly contradicted advice contained in the task force reports several times this fall by holding large campaign rallies in states with uncontained outbreaks. The transition team for President-elect Joe Biden has promised a national dashboard that would allow Americans to see data on the spread of the coronavirus by zip code.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment but has said in the past that it does not make the reports public because it wants states to lead the pandemic response.

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):

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Iowa
  5. Wyoming
  6. Nebraska
  7. Montana
  8. Illinois
  9. Utah
  10. Minnesota
  11. Kansas
  12. Idaho
  13. Alaska
  14. Indiana
  15. Colorado
  16. Missouri
  17. Rhode Island
  18. New Mexico
  19. Michigan
  20. Arkansas
  21. Kentucky
  22. Oklahoma
  23. Ohio
  24. Nevada
  25. Tennessee
  26. Connecticut
  27. Mississippi
  28. Texas
  29. West Virginia
  30. North Carolina
  31. Florida
  32. Arizona
  33. Alabama
  34. New Jersey
  35. Pennsylvania
  36. Massachusetts
  37. South Carolina
  38. Delaware
  39. Maryland
  40. Georgia
  41. Virginia
  42. Washington

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):

  1. Montana
  2. Idaho
  3. South Dakota
  4. Iowa
  5. Kansas
  6. Nebraska
  7. North Dakota
  8. Missouri
  9. Utah
  10. Wisconsin
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Minnesota
  13. Nevada
  14. New Mexico
  15. Indiana
  16. Illinois
  17. Tennessee
  18. Texas
  19. Colorado
  20. Mississippi

The states in the red zone for deaths (meaning they had more than more than two new deaths per 100,000 residents in the week prior): 

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Arkansas
  4. Montana
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Kansas
  7. Indiana
  8. New Mexico
  9. Iowa
  10. Missouri
  11. Wyoming
  12. Mississippi
  13. Idaho
  14. Tennessee
  15. Illinois
  16. Nebraska
  17. Minnesota
  18. Oklahoma
  19. Arizona
  20. Alabama
  21. North Carolina
  22. Texas
  23. West Virginia
  24. Nevada
  25. Michigan
  26. Rhode Island
  27. South Carolina

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