A White House report says 21 states are in the coronavirus 'red zone' and should limit gatherings, close gyms, and mask up

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Trump Birx White House Coronavirus Briefing
President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, unveil guidelines to reopen the US in April.

Alex Brandon/AP

  • Twenty-one US states are in "the red zone" for coronavirus cases, according to a White House report obtained by the New York Times on Wednesday.

  • That means these states have reported more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week.

  • The document, which has not been made public, recommended that red-zone states mandate public use of masks, close bars and gyms, and limit social gatherings to 10 people.

  • Here are all the states that fall into the red zone.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Trump suggested on Tuesday that the coronavirus has been eliminated in parts of the US.

"You can look at large portions of our country — it's corona-free," he said in a White House briefing. "But we are watching very carefully California, Arizona, Texas and most of Florida, it's starting to head down in the right direction."

Yet according to a federal report obtained by the New York Times on Wednesday, 21 states are in "the red zone" for coronavirus cases and should consider implementing stricter policies to prevent further spread. The four states the president mentioned are on the list. 

The document was prepared by the White House coronavirus task force and sent to state officials, but hadn't been made public. It represents an update to a similar report obtained by the Center for Public Integrity on July 14.

"Why are we hiding this information from the American people? This should be published and updated every day," Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told the Center for Public Integrity on July 16. 

The report's recommended policies for the red-zone states include mandating face coverings at all times outside the home, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, and closing bars, nightclubs, and gyms.

21 states are in the 'red zone'

Every single US state reported new COVID-19 cases this week.

Texas hospital coronavirus
Medical workers push a stretcher with a deceased patient out of the COVID-19 intensive-care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on June 30 in Houston, Texas.

Go Nakamura/Getty Images

But the report said the following 21 states were the worst off — reporting more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the week preceding July 26:

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Idaho

  • Iowa

  • Kansas

  • Louisiana

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Nevada

  • North Carolina

  • North Dakota

  • Oklahoma

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Wisconsin

Twenty-eight other states are in the "yellow zone," meaning they reported between 10 and 100 new cases per 100,000 residents. Only one state — Vermont — was in the green zone, with less than 10 new cases per 100,000.

Most experts agree that the surges of infections came after states reopened prematurely. In May, 21 states loosened lockdown restrictions without meeting White House guidelines, which instructed them to see either a two-week decline in cases or a two-week decline in the share of coronavirus tests coming back positive before reopening.

las vegas casinos reopen nevada lockdown coronavirus gambling
John Landin of Las Vegas after winning a hand of blackjack during the reopening of The D hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas on June 4.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

The July 14 document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity also said that 10 of those red-zone states, as well as Washington state, were in the "red zone for test positivity" — meaning more than 10% of coronavirus tests in the states came back positive between July 7 and 14.

Policy recommendations for states in the red zones

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, may have referred to a version of these reports at a press conference on July 8.

During the conference, Birx said the document was updated weekly and that the recommendations for how to curb spread were sent to governors. Those recommendations include encouraging residents to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people and to reduce public interactions and activities to 25% of normal levels.

The document also recommended that state officials mandate public use of masks, close bars and gyms, and create outdoor dining opportunities.

"Statewide mask mandate is critical to stop the spread," the July 26 report said.

arizona coronavirus masks
A sign at Lake Pleasant in Morristown, Arizona, on July 4 reminding people to wear a face mask.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

But governors in some red-zone states don't seem to be following those suggestions.

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed an executive order July 15 banning local mask mandates in the state.

Birx visited Tennessee to ask state officials to mandate mask-wearing on Monday, but Gov. Bill Lee also indicated he would not be issuing a statewide order

More than one-third of US states do not have statewide mask mandates in place.

This story was originally published July 16, 2020. It has been updated with new information.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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