Coronavirus and Inequality

Published — November 4, 2020

The White House’s state map is mostly red — for COVID-19 cases

Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurses look on during coronavirus testing on Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

38 states now in the coronavirus ‘red zone,’ according to the coronavirus task force


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More than three-fourths of states are now in the “red zone” for coronavirus cases, according to new reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The Dakotas and Wisconsin lead in cases per capita, as they have for weeks. Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are new to the red zone this week. 

The reports are sent to governors every week, but the White House does not release them publicly. The Center for Public Integrity is collecting and publishing them.

Three more states were in the red zone for percentage of positive tests since last week’s reports, for a total of 15. And nearly half of states were in the red zone for deaths, five more than last week.

The reports include recommendations to state and local health officials, and they took on a frustrated tone this week, especially in states where cases are high and where relatively few people are wearing masks and social distancing. “Partial or incomplete mitigation leads to prolonged community spread, hospitalizations, and increased fatalities,” the task force told multiple states. 

The latest 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)

“Given the urgency of the situation, it is critical to pivot from current approach to implementation of tried and true mitigation strategies,” it told red-zone Idaho.

In 66 percent of nursing homes in red-zone North Dakota, at least one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus last week. “This demonstrates the breadth and depth of the unrelenting and uncontrolled community spread,” the task force said. “Additional efforts in mitigation and testing must focus on both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.”

The reports again this week emphasized that indoor gatherings of family and friends are driving the spread of the virus.

The White House has said in the past that it does not release the reports because it wants states to lead the pandemic response.

According to the Nov. 1 reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, states in the red zone for new coronavirus cases per capita (more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents):

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

States in the red zone for test positivity (more than 10% of diagnostic tests are positive):

  1. Montana
  2. South Dakota
  3. Idaho
  4. Utah
  5. Iowa
  6. Kansas
  7. Nebraska
  8. Wisconsin
  9. North Dakota
  10. Missouri
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Nevada
  13. New Mexico
  14. Tennessee
  15. Texas

States in the red zone for new deaths per capita (more than two new deaths per 100,000 residents): 

  1. North Dakota
  2. Montana
  3. South Dakota
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Tennessee
  6. Arkansas
  7. Missouri
  8. Idaho
  9. Wyoming
  10. Mississippi
  11. Indiana
  12. Nebraska
  13. Iowa
  14. Delaware
  15. South Carolina
  16. Illinois
  17. Oklahoma
  18. Rhode Island
  19. New Mexico
  20. Minnesota
  21. Massachusetts
  22. North Carolina

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