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A document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force but not published suggests that more than a dozen states should revert to more stringent protective measures, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or less, shutting down bars and gymnasiums and asking residents to wear masks at all times.
The document, dated July 14 and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, indicates that 18 states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases, which means that they have had more than 100 new cases per 100 000 residents last week. Eleven states are in the “red zone” for test positivity, which means that more than 10% of diagnostic test results have returned positive.
It includes data at the county level and reflects the Trump administration’s insistence that states and counties take the lead in responding to the coronavirus. The document has been shared within the federal government but does not appear to be posted publicly.
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said he thought the information and recommendations were generally good.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that it’s not public,” Jha said Thursday. “Why are we hiding this information from the American people?” This should be published and updated daily. “
Governor’s Report July 14, 20 (PDF)
Governor’s report July 14, 20 (text)
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Governor’s report July 14, 20 (text)
Dr Deborah Birx, a leader of the task force, referred to an earlier version of what appears to be the same report – which she said was updated weekly and sent to governors – when a press conference on July 8 during which Vice President Mike Pence urged local authorities. leaders to open schools in the fall. She said that Arizona, California, Florida and Texas are among the states the task force is closely monitoring and that “a series of other states” are also in the red zone and should consider limiting gatherings.
It is clear that some states do not follow the advice of the task force. For example, the document recommends that Georgia, in the red zone for both cases and to test for positivity, “impose the wearing of fabric face covers throughout the state outside the home”. But Governor Brian Kemp signed an order on Wednesday prohibiting communities from asking for masks.
The 18 states that are included in the red zone for cases in the document are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
The 11 states that are in the red zone for positive tests are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.
In May, the World Health Organization recommended that governments ensure that test positivity rates were 5% or less for 14 days before reopening. A COVID-19 tracker from Johns Hopkins University shows that 33 states were above the recommended positivity as of July 16.
“If the test positivity rate is over 10%, it means that we are not doing a good job of mitigating the epidemic,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, head of scientific communication at the COVID Tracking Project, a voluntary organization launched by journalists from Atlantic. “Ideally, we want the test positivity rate to be less than 3% because it shows that we are removing COVID-19. ”
The White House and Kemp did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.