Unpublished Coronavirus Report Says 18 ‘Red Zone’ States Should Roll Back Reopening

An unpublished document reportedly prepared for the White House shows that 18 states are in the coronavirus “red zone” and should consider rolling back measures to reopen their economies. The 359-page report defines any state that has new had “new cases above 100 per 100,000” and test positivity results above 10 percent as at risk.

The report was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington D.C. Dated July 14, it shows recommendations for Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah to implement stricter social distancing and shut down some businesses.

Additionally, 11 states were also in the “red zone” for test positivity. These states are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.

The World Health Organization has cautioned that any area should have a test positivity rate at or below 5 percent before making the decision to ease social restriction guidelines. According to the report, Jessica Malaty Rivera, who works at The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project explained why the test positivity rate matters.

“If the test positivity rate is above 10 percent, that means we’re not doing a good job mitigating the outbreak. Ideally we want the test positivity rate to be below 3 percent, because that shows that we’re suppressing COVID-19,” Rivera said.

Given that the Trump administration pushed for states and counties to oversee their own individual responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the report details county-level data that one Harvard expert says looks reasonable. But Dr. Ashish Jha also questioned why it hadn’t been made available to the public.

“The fact that it’s not public makes no sense to me. Why are we hiding this information from the American people? This should be published and updated every day,” Jha said.

It appears that some of the states mentioned in the report aren’t following the advice laid out in the report. Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, for instance, banned counties from requiring face masks, despite clear guidance in the coronavirus report that the state should be asking people to wear them while in public.

A couple enters the Oceans Ten restaurant on Ocean Drive on July 04, 2020 in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Miami-Dade county has closed beaches from July 3-7 and imposed a curfew from from 10pm to 6am in preparation for the July 4th holiday weekend.

The U.S. has averaged over 62,000 new cases per day, leading the country to top 3.5 million new cases by Thursday. Many experts said this surge was caused in part by many states loosening their coronavirus restrictions too soon, before they had gotten the virus’ spread under control.

As a result, some states such as Florida and Texas, have threatened to or have begun to rollback reopening measures in parts of the state.