These 4 States Should Lock Down Immediately, Harvard Researchers Say

Based on their daily new case rates, these states should issue new stay-at-home orders.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. over the summer, recent signs of improvement have allowed health experts and state officials to feel some relief. But even as numbers have declined in some of the hardest-hit states, new cases have begun to climb in other parts of the country. And the rate of daily new cases has grown so high in some states that they may need to lock down again in order to contain their outbreaks.

The Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) keeps an updated color-coded map based on the seven-day moving average of daily new cases per 100,000 people in every state. When that number reaches 25, the state is designated as having a red risk level—this is the "tipping point" at which "stay-at-home orders become necessary again," according to the Harvard researchers. Currently, there are four states that should consider another lockdown—so read on to discover if your home state made the list. And for more states that are struggling, These Midwestern States Are Seeing a New Surge in COVID-19 Cases.


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Alabama has had ups and downs throughout the pandemic, but with a daily new case rate of 27.3 new cases per 100,000 people, the state has found its way back into the red on the HGHI map, meaning new stay-at-home orders are recommended. Alabama also has a high positive test rate of 17.1 percent, per the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. According to The New York Times, there have been nearly 126,060 total COVID cases in Alabama, resulting in over 2,180 deaths. And for more states to keep an eye on, These 2 States Are Seeing "Troubling Signs" of COVID Surges, Officials Say.

South Dakota

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A week ago, South Dakota had the biggest COVID spike in the country, and the situation has not improved much since then. Whether from the recent Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which has emerged as a superspreader event, or normal community transmission, South Dakota is now seeing 29.2 daily new cases per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI. And with an infection rate of 1.31 and a positive test rate of 17.8 percent, per Covid Act Now, that number could soon get even worse.

To date, there have been more than 13,320 COVID cases in South Dakota, along with just over 165 deaths. And for more on the ongoing outbreak, This State Is Doing the Worst at Managing COVID Infections Right Now.

North Dakota

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North Dakota has now surpassed its neighbor to the south, with 32.9 daily new cases per 100,000 people, placing it firmly in the red on the HGHI map. North Dakota is currently experiencing its worst COVID spike since the pandemic began. Its positive test rate has skyrocketed accordingly: Johns Hopkins now puts it at 20.1 percent. Overall, there have been 11,820 coronavirus cases in North Dakota, with just under 150 deaths. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


iowa city

A data error hid how serious the situation in Iowa was for some time. Now, however, it's apparent that the state has the highest daily new case rate in the country: 34.6 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI. Iowa's outbreak is severe enough that the state has shut down bars and other establishments in six counties to try to slow the spread, but a full lockdown may be required to get things under control.

Iowa's high infection rate of 1.30, along with a positive test rate of 17.5 percent, suggest that the state has a long way to go before reversing course. As The New York Times reports, there have been nearly 64,715 COVID cases in Iowa, resulting in over 1,110 deaths. And for more on Iowa's struggle, This State Has Suddenly Become the Biggest Hotspot in the Country.

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