It's More Than Likely You Live in a COVID "Red Zone," Harvard Doctor Says

Over a third of states are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases and/or positive test rates.

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Though you may have thought that the coronavirus pandemic peaked in April, major regions of the United States have recently hit record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases. In the midst of this spike, a confidential document intended for the White House coronavirus task force was leaked by the Center for Public Integrity, revealing the troubling news that over a third of states are considered coronavirus "red zones" and should pause their reopening plans.

"Red zone" states are those seeing rapid transmission rates of more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past week and/or positive test rates of at least 10 percent. At the time of publication on July 14, the document revealed that the "red zone" states were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

In a recent tweet, Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, wrote that as of July 18, there are 20 "red zone" states and that a whopping 52 percent of Americans live in those states. That means there's a good chance you're living in a "red zone."

Crowd of people wearing masks outside
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Additionally, Jha explained that over the past two weeks, cases had increased by 33 percent, hospitalizations were up by 75 percent, and deaths surged by 101 percent. "This is not localized to a few states," Jha said. "And things aren't getting better."

To slow the spread, the White House report recommends strict safety measures in "red zone" areas, urging government officials to make masks mandatory, increase community-led access to testing, and close places like bars and gyms that are prone to outbreaks.

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It also suggests that citizens should social distance and limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people—or, better yet, stay at home as much as possible, cutting their normal day-to-day activity back 25 percent. For those who'd like to eat at a restaurant without risk, the White House report says dining al fresco is the best bet, but ordering takeout is even safer. And for more ways to curb the coronavirus from Jha, check out These 3 Things Can Prevent a Worst-Case COVID Scenario, Harvard Doctor Says.

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