These 4 States Should Lock Down Right Away, Harvard Researchers Say

Based on the rate of daily new cases, these states may need another shutdown.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown signs of slowing down across the country, with lower numbers nationwide signaling major signs of improvement. Unfortunately, the U.S. is far from being out of the woods, and even with an encouraging trajectory, certain areas are still experiencing a troubling rise in new cases. In fact, there are four states that may need to lock down again to contain their ongoing COVID outbreaks.

The Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) keeps a regularly updated color-coded map of COVID risk levels in every state. States with more than 25 daily new cases per 100,000 people—a 7-day moving average—are colored red. "Once a community reaches the red risk level, stay-at-home orders become necessary again," according to the researchers.

Based on the number of new cases, these are the states that meet that criteria as of Sept. 18, and should consider an immediate return to lockdown. And for more states struggling to control coronavirus, these are The 5 States Where COVID Is Now Spreading Fastest.

South Dakota

A view of Rapid City, South Dakota at night, with a park in the foreground.

South Dakota appears to still be suffering the effects of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a superspreader event. The state is now seeing 27.8 daily new cases per 100,000 people, according to the HGHI map. While there are some signs of improvement in South Dakota—an infection rate of 0.95 means COVID is spreading slowly, per Covid Act Now—the state still has a high positive test rate of 15.1 percent, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. There have been more than 1,850 COVID cases in South Dakota over the past seven days, The New York Times reports, resulting in nearly 17,700 cases to date. And for more on how coronavirus is spreading, This One Thing Is Now Causing COVID Outbreaks in Every Single State.


little rock arkansas skyline

With 28.8 daily new cases per 100,000 people, Arkansas is firmly in the red on the HGHI map. The state's positive test rate has been increasing—it's now 9.1 percent, per Johns Hopkins. Arkansas' moderate infection rate of 1.01, as reported by Covid Act Now, means that the virus is still spreading in the state, albeit slowly. Over the past seven days, Arkansas has seen over 5,400 new coronavirus cases, leading to a total of more than 73,200 in the state. And for another state that's struggling, This Surprising State Just Saw More COVID Deaths Than It Has Since May.


Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan

Wisconsin's COVID spike has brought the state negative attention recently. In fact, nearly half of the 20 worst coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. are in Wisconsin. There have been almost 10,500 new COVID cases in the last week, with a total of over 100,700 cases overall, per The New York Times. Wisconsin currently has the second-worst daily new case rate in the country, according to the HGHI map, with 37.1 cases per 100,000 people. Covid Act Now also gives Wisconsin a notably high infection rate of 1.20, and a positive test rate of 14.7 percent. And for a state that's mastered coronavirus containment, Dr. Fauci Just Called This State the "Model" for COVID Success.

North Dakota

north dakota capital tower

North Dakota has the worst daily new case rate in the country and should return to lockdown, per the HGHI map. The state is now experiencing 41.7 new cases per 100,000 people. Covid Act Now puts North Dakota in the "critical" category, thanks to the daily new case rate, but also the exceedingly high positive test rate of 24.4 percent. There have been an additional 2,280 coronavirus cases in North Dakota over the past seven days, and a total of more than 17,230 cases in the state as of Sept. 18. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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