Most States Need to Shut Down Again for This Long, Johns Hopkins Says

This is just one of the recommendations for how the U.S. should reset its response to the pandemic.

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Even though we're entering into the sixth month of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States hasn't been able to gain widespread control over the coronavirus. Certain states have managed to curb the spread and show signs of improvement, but others are just now seeing their largest outbreaks, clearly indicating that as a country, we're far from being COVID-free. And with that being the case, a group of scientists and scholars from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security issued a series of recommendations on what the U.S. needs to change in regards to how it is dealing with COVID-19—one of them being that most states need to shut down again. According to the report, "governors should reinstitute stay-at-home orders" if their states' numbers are spiking until things have improved for a minimum of two weeks.

The paper, released on July 29 and titled "Resetting Our Response: Changes Needed in the US Approach to COVID-19," is a clear call to action for the country to look at the bigger picture of the pandemic. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge far beyond what any [one] state, territory, or community can handle alone," the authors write. "It is only our collective action that will generate the change necessary to regain control of this epidemic, avoid cascading crises in our healthcare system and economy, and save great numbers of lives throughout the United States."

A healthcare working wearing PPE holding a nasal swab and tube for a coronavirus test.
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As one of the recommendations that follows, the authors write: "In places where the epidemic is worsening (increasing daily incidence and high or increasing test positivity), and hospital systems are in crisis or approaching it, governors should reinstitute stay-at-home orders until numbers improve for at least 2 weeks."

Based on the testing criteria alone, more than half of states in the U.S. would fall into the category of needing to go back into lockdown. According to John Hopkins University & Medicine data as of July 31, at least 33 states had a seven-day average of daily positive test results that is both higher than the week prior and above the 5 percent threshold of what is necessary to be considered safe for reopening.

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How should states proceed once they see the two weeks of improving case numbers and fewer positive tests? "First by reintroducing a handful of [low-risk] activities and settings and then waiting at least 2 weeks to evaluate the impact on transmission before reopening further," John Hopkins says.

For weeks, researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) have been updating their COVID Risk Level Map, which categorizing states based on their rate of daily new cases. For those in the highest risk category, which are states 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." According to that metric, These 13 States Need to Lock Down Immediately, Harvard Researchers Say.

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