These 13 States Need to Lock Down Immediately, Harvard Researchers Say

Based on the number of daily new cases, these states need a shutdown to contain their outbreaks.

Even with some signs of improvement in certain states, the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating. The crisis may be moving into new parts of the country, but numbers are still up nationwide. And hard-hit states where new cases have plateaued or are going down still haven't fully contained their outbreaks. Since the pandemic began, the researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) have been categorizing states' COVID risk levels based on their rate of daily new cases. For those in the highest risk category, which are seeing more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, the experts note that's when "stay-at-home orders become necessary again." While some of these areas may be moving in the right direction, these states still might need to lock down to contain their COVID outbreaks. And for states where coronavirus is on the rise, The COVID Outbreak Is "Moving Up" Into These States, White House Says.


birmingham alabama

The HGHI color-coded map of COVID risk puts Alabama in the "red" category for a daily new case rate of 35.0 per 100,000 people. States experiencing this level of "accelerated spread" should consider another lockdown, experts say. According to the experts at Covid Act Now, Alabama also has an alarming positive test rate of 20.4 percent, and a serious risk of running out of ICU beds for COVID patients. As of July 31, The New York Times reports over 85,760 coronavirus cases in Alabama and 1,565 deaths.


phoenix arizona skyline

New cases may be going down in Arizona, but the state is not out of the woods yet. The HGHI map puts Arizona's current daily new case rate at 33.9 cases per 100,000 people. According to Covid Act Now, its other indicators are very similar to Alabama's: a positive test rate of 20.2 percent, and a "critical" lack of available ICU beds. On the other hand, Arizona's infection rate of 0.90 shows that the state is moving in the right direction. Thus far, there have been more than 170,900 COVID cases in the state, with nearly 3,630 deaths. And for more "critical" states showing signs of improvement, Dr. Fauci Says These 4 States' COVID Cases Are "Coming Back Down."


Little Rock Arkansas skyline

According to the HGHI, Arkansas is in the "red" for its 26.2 daily new cases per 100,000 people. Beyond that, the state's positive test rate of 10.8 percent is high, but the infection rate of 1.08 means that coronavirus cases are spreading slowly in Arkansas. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been around 41,760 COVID cases in the state and just over 440 deaths.


miami florida skyline

Florida has the highest daily new case rate of any state, according to the HGHI: 48.0 new cases per 100,000 people. That alone would make it a "critical" state for Covid Act Now, but this epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. also has a positive test rate of 19.3 percent and a severely limited number of ICU beds. As of July 31, there have been over 461,370 coronavirus cases in Florida, according to The New York Times, along with 6,585 deaths.


atlanta georgia skyline

With 35.1 daily new cases per 100,000 people, as the HGHI map shows, Georgia may need to lock down again to contain its COVID outbreak. That aside, the lack of available ICU beds in the state is "critical," according to Covid Act Now. While the positive test rate of 13.3 percent is high, Georgia's outbreak is at least spreading slowly, with an infection rate of 1.05. There have been almost 167,550 COVID cases in Georgia and close to 3,600 deaths. And for more states to keep an eye on, There Are 3 New States on the White House's Coronavirus "Red Zone" List.


downtown coeur d'alene idaho

Idaho is one of the states that rarely gets attention amid the pandemic, despite a severe COVID outbreak. In fact, Idaho is now seeing 27.2 daily new cases per 100,000 people, the HGHI says. The positive test rate of 17.8 percent is also high, according to Covid Act Now, though Idaho's 1.00 infection rate is a sign that conditions may be improving. To date, Idaho has seen almost 20,380 coronavirus cases, resulting in 180 deaths.


skyline of shreveport louisiana

Louisiana is another one of the most seriously impacted states in the country, contrary to the lack of media attention. The state's infection rate has improved—it's now down to 1.03, according to Covid Act Now—but it's still one of the "red" states on the HGHI map, because of its 44.4 daily new cases per 100,000 people, the highest rate next to Florida. The New York Times reports nearly 114,600 COVID cases in Louisiana, along with 3,925 deaths. And for a reminder of how quickly the tides can turn, This Previously "Safe" State Just Saw a Surge in COVID Cases.


jackson mississippi skyline

Just under Louisiana is Mississippi, according to the HGHI, with a daily new case rate of 42.1 per 100,000 people. Covid Act Now also reports a "critical" positive test rate of 21.7 percent and a similarly dangerous lack of available ICU beds for COVID patients. There have been close to 57,580 coronavirus cases in Mississippi and just over 1,610 deaths.


las vegas strip in nevada

Nevada might need to lock down to lower its daily new case rate, which is 34.4 cases per 100,000, HGHI reports. The state's other areas of concern are its lack of available ICU beds and a high positive test rate of 13.5 percent. As in other hard-hit states, the moderate infection rate of 1.03 means that cases aren't spreading too quickly in Nevada. So far, there have been more than 47,030 COVID cases in the state, with 805 deaths.


oklahoma city skyline

Oklahoma is now seeing 26.8 daily new cases per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI map. And although Covid Act Now reports a moderate positive test rate of 7.3 percent, Oklahoma also has a high infection rate of 1.16, making it clear the spread has not been contained. As of July 31, The New York Times reports 35,710 coronavirus cases in Oklahoma and a little more than 535 deaths. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

South Carolina

charleston south carolina skyline

According to the HGHI, South Carolina has a daily new case rate of 29.5 per 100,000, which could be reason enough to lock down. There are signs of improvement, however: Covid Act Now gives the state an encouraging infection rate of 0.96. Unfortunately, that doesn't mitigate the high positive test rate of 15.0 percent or the "critical" lack of ICU beds. Per The New York Times, cases in the state are decreasing, but so far South Carolina has seen over 87,570 cases, along with almost 1,670 deaths from COVID.


memphis tennessee skyline

Tennessee is marked "red" on the HGHI map because it has a daily new case rate of 34.6 cases per 100,000 people. It's also coded as "red" on the Covid Act Now map, too, for the same reason—but also because there aren't enough ICU beds for potential COVID patients given the current trajectory of the outbreak. There have been over 100,165 coronavirus cases in Tennessee, resulting in a little more than 1,020 deaths.


houston texas skyline

Like several other states on this list, Texas is showing signs of improvement, but it's too soon to celebrate—especially when the HGHI still puts the state's rate of daily new cases at 27.5 cases per 100,000 people. Texas also remains in Covid Act Now's "critical" category, due in large part to the limited number of ICU beds remaining. Although the 11.9 percent positive test is still high, the 0.94 infection rate is another promising sign. There have been over 432,000 COVID cases in Texas, as of July 31, with almost 7,000 deaths.

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