These 14 States Are Looking at Another Lockdown, Harvard Researchers Say

The growing per capita infection rates in these state could mean another lockdown is on the horizon.

As some US states plan the latter phases of their reopening plans, others are taking a step backward as coronavirus cases continue to grow. Hard-hit states including Florida and Texas have already taken preventative measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, including closing bars and setting limits on indoor dining, while others have recently enacted mandatory face mask measures to reduce new COVID cases. According to experts, many states with infection numbers that are tipping into perilous territory should follow suit—and potentially implement a return to lockdown in the near future.

The COVID Risk Level Map, a collaboration that includes input from the Harvard Global Health Institute, Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, the Rockefeller Foundation, CovidActNow, Covid-Local, and CIDRAP, among others, has identified 14 states that are currently classified as COVID risk level orange, which denotes an accelerated spread. For these states, a combination of stay-at-home orders, increased testing, and contact tracing programs are recommended—which could mean a new lockdown isn't far off. Wondering if your area is becoming a coronavirus hub? Read on to discover which states could return to lockdown in the near future. And for more on the subject, check out Dr. Fauci Has This Alarming Message About Future State Lockdowns.


las vegas strip in nevada

While Nevada was quick to reopen many of its casinos, a revenue source that brings in $1.5 billion per year—or nearly 40 percent of the state's total tax revenue—doing so may have been a major factor in the state's growing amount of coronavirus cases. Casinos reopened on June 4, and now the state has an average of 24.1 new daily cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents, according to the COVID Risk Level Map—just 0.9 daily cases below the criteria for COVID risk level red, which indicates that stay-at-home orders are once again necessary for public safety.

On Thursday, July 9, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that the spike in coronavirus cases would prompt a return to phase 1 for bars in some counties, meaning the closure of establishments that don't serve food and the closure of bar areas in some restaurants. Curious as to where else cases are on the rise? COVID Cases in This State Are Up a Staggering 999 Percent Since Reopening.


jackson mississippi skyline

Coronavirus cases in Mississippi have reached critical levels, with the state averaging 23.9 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. While the state hasn't officially floated the idea of a new coronavirus lockdown yet, the surge in new infections prompted Governor Tate Reeves to implement mask mandates in 13 of the state's counties, beginning the week of July 13, as well as prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 10 people—with churches being a notable exception—and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 in these counties.


mobile alabama skyline

In early July, Alabama was identified by CovidActNow as a state in which coronavirus cases were rising to "critical" levels, meaning a new lockdown might not be far off. The state is now seeing an average of 23.3 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, with the weekly average for new cases quadrupling between June 5 and July 5. While Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has not yet rolled back reopening in response to the uptick in cases, on June 30, she did issue an amended "Safer at Home" order recommending that residents limit travel and non-work gatherings whenever possible, wear masks in public, and wash hands frequently.


Nashville Tennessee TN Drone Skyline Aerial Panorama.

Tennessee is now reporting an average of 21.9 new daily coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents. The state set a new single-day record for coronavirus cases on July 8, and reported 1,605 new infections and 25 deaths between July 9 and July 10, with a total of 57,591 infections and 710 deaths throughout the state. While statewide shutdown plans have not been announced, officials have reiterated the importance of wearing masks—something that's not yet mandated state-wide. "If we want to keep bars open and the economy moving forward, we have to take the responsibility of wearing masks, social distancing," said Governor Bill Lee in a July 8 press conference. And for more information on mask mandates, These Major Cities Made Masks Mandatory, Even Though Their States Haven't.


boise idaho skyline

Idaho has hit a new daily average of 20.8 cases per 100,000 residents, just weeks after entering stage 4 of reopening. According to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, the state has a 13.3 percent positive coronavirus test rate—well over the five percent threshold recommended for reopening by the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the surge in cases hasn't prompted a major change in the plans for the state going forward; on July 9, Governor Brad Little announced that the state would remain in phase 4 for an additional two weeks, with the expectation that classrooms would still reopen soon for in-person instruction. "It is imperative that students return to their classrooms and interact directly with their teachers and classmates at the end of summer," he said in a press conference on July 9.


santa barbara california

California is once again in perilous territory, with 19.6 average new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. On July 9, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state had surpassed its previous single-day death toll, with 149 Californians dying in a 24-hour period, a significant uptick from the previous daily high of 115 deaths reported on April 22. On July 6, Newsom instituted new measures to combat the virus' spread, including the closure of indoor activities, including dining, movie theaters, museums, zoos, and other entertainment facilities in 19 counties particularly hard-hit by COVID.


little rock arkansas skyline

Arkansas' average number of new daily coronavirus infections is now 19.2 per 100,000 residents—more than double the number required to move into COVID risk level yellow, in which the lifting of stay-at-home orders is recommended. However, despite the surge in new infections, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced during a July 9 press conference that schools are still on track to reopen in late August. And for more up-to-date information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


salt lake city skyline

Utah—which never officially implemented a statewide coronavirus lockdown—now has doubled the number of new average daily cases necessary to avoid stay-at-home orders, according to public health experts. The state is reporting an average of 18 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, with 27,356 cases throughout the state and 205 total COVID-19 deaths. While Utah has yet to implement a statewide mask mandate to slow the spread of the virus, Governor Gary Herbert announced on Thursday, July 9 that all students in the state's K-12 schools would be required to wear masks upon returning in the fall. And if you want to know where else you'll need to stay covered, These 4 States Just Made Face Masks Mandatory.

North Carolina

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, USA Drone Skyline Aerial

While North Carolina's new daily infection numbers fall short of any imminent lockdown, they're troubling nonetheless. The state is now experiencing a new daily average of 14.7 new coronavirus cases per 100,00 residents, with a total of 79,349 lab-confirmed cases within the state as of July 9. On Thursday, the state reported 2,039 new coronavirus cases—the second-highest daily infection rate since the pandemic began—and 1,034 new hospitalizations, a significant increase from the 774 new hospitalizations reported one month prior.


iowa city old capitol building in iowa before being moved to des moines

In June, Iowa canceled its state fair for the first time since World War II, but the latest infection rates in the state suggest that more drastic measures may need to be put into effect in the near future. The state now reports 14 new average daily infections per 100,000 residents, with a total of 33,756 positive cases in the state—a 9.3 positive test rate—and one out of nine Iowans tested in total. And if you're eager to see lockdowns end for good, This Is When We'll Be Done With the Coronavirus, Doctor Says.


Saturated early morning light hits the buildings and architecture of downtown Wilmington Delaware

Delaware is reporting the same new average daily infection numbers as Iowa: 14 per 100,000 residents. The state has reported 517 coronavirus deaths thus far. While Delaware's numbers may be on the rise, its testing rate is only slightly above the WHO's positivity recommendations— 5.23 percent versus the recommended 5 percent.


tulsa oklahoma skyline

Oklahoma, which only mandated initial coronavirus lockdown orders in parts of the state—saw a huge increase in new cases throughout June and July, with the symptom onset for only four active cases reported on June 1, and 406 new active cases reported on July 1. The state is now reporting 13.7 average new daily infections per 100,000 residents, with 18,496 total cases and 410 deaths across the state.


springtime view in downtown Topeka, Kansas, USA

Kansas is reporting a 10.38 percent coronavirus test positivity rate—double what's recommended by the WHO—and its new daily infection numbers are looking grim, as well. The state is now reporting an average of 12.9 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. On the bright side, however, the state's hospital system may be adequately equipped to handle new patients—according to CovidActNow, the state is currently using just 13 percent of its total ICU capacity.

New Mexico

santa fe new mexico may return to coronavirus lockdown

While New Mexico's new daily average number of coronavirus cases—11.9 per 100,000 residents—makes it the state with the lowest numbers in the COVID risk orange category, the surge in new cases has been dramatic. According to The New York Times interactive coronavirus case map, the state's 7-day average for new cases was 154 on June 9; on July 9, it had risen to 247. Want to know where stricter coronavirus measures are imminent? These 6 States Need Another Lockdown, Harvard Researchers Say.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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