Every State Should Be Locking Down Except These 3, Researchers Warn

The remaining 47 states are currently at the highest risk level and should roll back re-openings.

While experts say we have yet to see the full extent of the expected post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases, one thing is clear: almost everywhere in the U.S. is experiencing worsening outbreaks. And with the holidays just weeks away, health officials are asking people to drop their travel plans and prepare for some of the darkest days yet. Though many states have started rolling back their reopenings in certain ways, very few have truly locked down again to the extent of the spring and summer shutdowns. But, according to recent data, most states should in fact be locking down right now, except a few whose numbers are currently far less bleak.

The Brown School of Public Health's COVID Risk Levels color-coded map uses the most recent figures to show how much cases are spreading in each state across the U.S. A rate of less than 1 case per 100,000 people is green, meaning "on track for containment." But right now, there are no green states on the map. The other risk levels are yellow (which indicates "community spread") for 1 to 9 cases per 100,000 people; orange (which points to "accelerated spread") for 10 to 24 cases per 100,000 people; and red (which connotes the "tipping point") for 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. According to the Brown researchers, "once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again."

Currently, 47 states are at that tipping point where the experts recommend locking down, while three are hanging on at the orange and yellow risk levels. Read on to see which states are the only ones that don't need to lock back down right now, and for more on how your area is faring, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

Read the original article on Best Life.


city skyline and buildings in Montipelier, Vermont at twilight

Seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people: 19.7

Risk level: Orange

Vermont officials have gone to great lengths to keep COVID numbers low since the earliest days of the pandemic by banning private gatherings, imposing quarantines on visitors, and enforcing a mask mandate, which has consistently kept the state ranked among those with the lowest infection rates.

Recently, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott issued a new order, mandating bars and restaurants with table service close at 10 p.m. daily, as well as instituting statewide suspension of youth sports. During a Dec. 4 press conference, Scott told reporters that forthcoming vaccines represent a "light at the end of the tunnel," and that Vermonters should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid travel as they wait for doses to arrive.

And for more on which businesses and shops to avoid right now, check out Almost All COVID Transmission Is Happening in These 5 Places, Doctor Says.


cityscape photos of Portland, Maine

Seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people: 17.4

Risk level: Orange

Despite a headline-grabbing superspreader wedding in the state, Maine is currently ranked 49th out of the 50 states in the U.S. in terms of new daily cases per capita.

Unfortunately, a recent uptick in cases there has local health officials worried, with Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, MD, saying the state is seeing a "surge on top of a surge." Positive test results have risen from 3.96 percent to 4.72 percent in the past week and Maine also posted its highest single day of new cases on Dec. 7 with 427 new infections reported. So, it may only be a matter of time before Maine winds up in the red.

"We've hit another mark that I hoped we would never hit," Shah said in a Dec. 7 tweet reporting the figures. "Sadly, this may not be the last time."

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An aerial photo of Waikiki Beach and downtown Honolulu, Hawaii with Diamond Head in the background

Seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people: 6.4

Risk level: Yellow

Months after a summertime spike in cases, the Aloha State is nearly in the clear; it's the only state currently listed at the "yellow" risk level. While Hawaii Gov. David Ige has left local mayors and officials on each island to set restrictions on businesses and mask-wearing, he instituted an order prior to Thanksgiving that all visitors must either have tested negative for COVID or quarantine for 14 days when they arrive. And for more on how areas know it's time to get serious, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is When You "Don't Have Any Choice" But to Lock Down.

Meanwhile, these states are struggling the worst.

Anchorage Skyline with a winter reflection

Unfortunately, the rest of the states in the union are witnessing a very different situation at this phase of the pandemic, with some areas seeing particularly bad outbreaks. As of Dec. 7, South Dakota and Minnesota were continuing to struggle with mounting cases in the hard-hit Midwest, seeing weekly averages of 100.2 and 104.8 new cases per 100,000 people respectively.

But Alaska is currently seeing the highest rate of new infections, with a weekly average of 172.6 new cases per capita. In response to the recent surge in cases, officials in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, imposed a "hunker down" order on Nov. 25 that limits bars and restaurants to take out and delivery only through the end of the year. And for more on your own risk factor, check out If You Have One of These Blood Types, You May Be Safe From COVID.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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