11 States Now in the White House COVID Red Zone, Leaked Reports Say
Despite the country's declining case numbers overall, some states are still in the red.
For the past few weeks, after a summer of COVID surges, the U.S. has been celebrating a decline in coronavirus case numbers overall. But the truth is, not all states are having the same success against the pandemic. In fact, quite a few are on the White House Coronavirus Task Force's dreaded COVID red zone list, according to recent leaked reports. Being in the "red zone" is one of the most ominous labels a state can claim. It means the state is seeing rapid coronavirus transmission rates of more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in a week and/or positive test rates of at least 10 percent.
The public was first made aware of the White House's COVID red zone list when a leaked document was published by the Center for Public Integrity in mid-July. But because the White House does not make these COVID reports public, it's been difficult to track which states could be on the verge of a COVID outbreak.
Still, the Center for Public Integrity has been gathering and publishing the weekly reports for as many of the 50 states as possible. For the week ending in Sept. 6, they obtained 12 states' leaked White House reports, which indicate at least some of the states that are in the red zone. Other states' reports were also obtained by ABC News.
According to the leaked reports and the latest data, the following 11 states—and maybe more—are currently in the White House's COVID red zone. And if you're worried you could have COVID, These Are the 51 Most Common COVID Symptoms You Could Have.
After obtaining a copy of this week's White House Coronavirus Task Force report, ABC News noted South Carolina is in the COVID red zone due to its numbers last week. The White House says the counties of Chester, Chesterfield and Lancaster are of particular concern. The ABC News report did not specify whether South Carolina was in the COVID red zone for its positive test rate (9.8 percent as of Sept. 11) or its new case rate (about 111 per 100,000 residents per week), according to Covid Act Now, but it seems likely it's the latter.
Minnesota has moved into the White House's COVID red zone for its number of new cases in the past week. With 101 new cases per 100,000 residents, it had the 21st highest rate in the country. The good news for Minnesota is, with a 7.2 percent positive test rate, the state is in the yellow zone on that front. And for more on where the pandemic is headed—and when—Expect a Massive Surge in COVID Cases After This Date, Experts Say.
Like Minnesota, Georgia's positive test rate isn't the most concerning (it's 8.1 percent, making it the 19th highest nationwide). But its new case rate last week is what puts it in the White House Coronavirus Task Force's red zone. It had the 12th highest case rate per capita in the U.S., with 132 new cases per 100,000 residents.
The islands of Hawaii have had a rough go as of late, and the state is still in the White House's COVID red zone with the 15th highest rate of new cases in the country. Hawaii saw 116 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week, but its positive test rate looks much better. At 5 percent, it has the 30th highest positive test rate in the nation. And for more on Hawaii's war with COVID, discover The Surprising Source of Hawaii's COVID Surge, According to Officials.
While Virginia is the yellow zone for its new case rate, it's in the COVID red zone for test positivity after last week, with the seventh highest rate nationwide at 10.4 percent. "The increasing test positivity is very concerning," the White House wrote in the leaked report. And for more on one of Virginia's neighbors, This State Now Has the Worst COVID-19 Infection Rate in the U.S.
With 146 new cases per 100,000 residents last week, Oklahoma finds itself in the COVID red zone. In fact, it has the ninth highest COVID case rate in the country. It's also in the red zone for test positivity, with the fourth highest rate in the U.S. at 11.3 percent. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Missouri is also in the COVID red zone for new cases, but not positive test rate. The state's 150 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week gave it the seventh highest rate nationwide. As for test positivity, its 9.7 percent rate gives it the ninth highest rate in the U.S., just barely putting it in the yellow zone.
Barely worse off than Missouri, Arkansas is in the COVID red zone for new cases this week; its 152 new cases per 100,000 residents gives it the sixth highest new case rate in the country. However, with a positive test rate of 9.6 percent, it just barely managed to stay in the yellow zone for test positivity. (By that metric, it has the 13th highest rate in the nation.)
According to the leaked report, Iowa is in the COVID red zone for both its new cases per capita and its positive test rate. It has the third highest rate of new cases in the nation (189 per 100,000 residents) and the sixth highest test positivity rate at 10.4 percent. And for more on Iowa, These 4 States Are Now Seeing the Worst COVID Spikes in the U.S.
As the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally's aftermath continues to wreak havoc, South Dakota finds itself in the COVID red zone for its rate of new cases and its positive test rate. It's in second place in both categories nationwide, leading the White House to say, "Continued increasing case counts and remarkably high test positivity in the context of insufficient testing levels are deeply concerning." The experts suggest "aggressively promote social distancing and use of face coverings, particularly in indoor settings, statewide." And for more on this suffering state's latest legacy, Here's How Far COVID Traveled After One Superspreader Event.
While North Dakota's Sept. 6 report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has not been leaked, it's clear the state is in the red zone, with the highest new case rate and positive test rate in the U.S. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, North Dakota's positive test rate is a frightening 20.8 percent over the last seven days. And its new case rate is 195 per 100,000 residents, according to the Washington Post, which is almost double the threshold for a COVID red zone state.
And there are likely at least eight more states in the red zone.
We've yet to see reports on every state, since the White House keeps them close to the vest, but based on positive test rates from Johns Hopkins and new case rates from the Washington Post, there are at least eight more states that are likely in the White House's COVID red zone: Alabama (for new cases and positive test rate); Wisconsin (for new cases and positive test rate); Tennessee (for new cases); Kansas (for positive test rate); Idaho (for positive test rate); Florida (for positive test rate); Mississippi (for positive test rate); and Nevada (for positive test rate). And if you want to know what sticks with you after battling COVID, here are The 98 Longest Lasting COVID Symptoms You Need to Know About.