5 States "On the Brink" of Serious COVID Situations, Harvard Doctor Says

They're not at the critical level yet, Harvard research shows, but "they have to get aggressive now."

You've seen what's happening in Florida. You've heard about Texas. And you've certainly read about the crisis in Arizona. But those aren't the only states where coronavirus is surging in a startling way. Researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) have put together an interactive map that measures each state's COVID risk. And while nine states have reached their "tipping points," plenty of others are teetering on losing control of their outbreaks, according to Ashish Jha, MD, director of HGHI.

On July 11, Jha shared on Twitter that five states in particular are "on the brink" of going from "accelerated spread," which are coded as orange on the HGHI map, to hitting their "tipping points," coded as red. "Orange Zone concerns me," Jha tweeted, noting that these five states could "turn red soon." Read on to find out which states "have to get aggressive now," according to Jha. Or else… And for more on the states that need to take action, check out These 4 States Need to Roll Back on Reopening, Harvard Doctor Says.


map of idaho showing covid outbreak

In the time since Jha's tweet on July 11 and when this article was published, Idaho made the jump from "on the brink" to the "tipping point." With 25 new cases per day per 100,000 people, it's now officially in the red on the HGHI map. According to Covid Act Now, Idaho has a particularly high infection rate (the number of people the average COVID patient infects) of 1.34 and positive test rate of 14.1 percent. And while its ICUs are not close to be overwhelmed, the state is also not doing enough contact tracing to isolate infected individuals. And for more on Idaho's dire situation, check out These 10 States' Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Now "Critical," Experts Say.


nevada map shows covid outbreak

Nevada is seeing about 24 new cases per day per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI map. Covid Act Now reports that the state's infection rate is also high at 1.16, its elevated positive test rate of 12.9 percent "indicates insufficient testing," and 62 percent of its ICU beds are already occupied. That means Nevada is at risk of hitting capacity quickly as cases surge. The HGHI map indicates it's the next state that could, like Idaho, make the crossover from orange to red. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our newsletter.


map of california with covid outbreak

Jha notes that considering how large California is, varying parts of the state are at different places with the virus. "CA is large state with some places that look as bad as AZ, TX, other places look fine," he tweeted. According to the HGHI, California is seeing nearly 24 new cases per day per 100,000 people. And according to data from Covid Act Now, the state's infection rate of 1.17 shows that "cases are rapidly increasing." As a result, on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was rolling back reopening across the state, seemingly heeding Jha's warning. And for more on California's recent growth, check out Young People Are Responsible for Coronavirus Spikes in These 5 States.


map of mississippi showing covid infection

Nearly 23 new cases per 100,000 people are emerging in the state of Mississippi, according to the HGHI data. Covid Act Now is similarly concerned about this southern state: Cases are climbing with a 1.14 infection rate, the positive test rate is 14.2 percent, and there are only enough contact tracers to contain 7 percent of cases.


map of tennessee showing covid outbreak

Tennessee has 23 new cases per 100,000 people, the HGHI map indicates. While that may be the lowest on this list of states on the brink, Tennessee's infection rate is actually one of the highest in the country at 1.24. And while it appears the state is testing sufficiently (with a 8.5 percent positive test rate) and has sufficient ICU beds, there are not nearly enough contact tracers to isolate COVID patients. And for more on where this state is going, check out These 14 States Are Looking at Another Lockdown, Harvard Researchers Say.

Jaimie Etkin
Jaimie is the Editor-in-Chief of Best Life. Read more
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