AFP via Getty Images
A White House document has revealed 18 states are in the coronavirus “red zone” as the country records its highest single-day jump in new cases.
Concern has risen among health professionals as cases have surged in states across the country – including Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, and Georgia. In response, some states like California and Texas have rolled back reopening plans to curb the spread of the virus.
But according to a White House document obtained by the Centre for Public Integrity, these states were still not doing enough.
A total of 18 states were flagged as in the coronavirus “red zone” by the document.
The red zone states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
What classified these states as in the red zone, according to the 359-page document, was that each area reported more than 100 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents from 7 July to 14 July.
The US recorded its largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Thursday with 77,000 new people testing positive for the virus. As of Friday, more than 3.5 million cases have been reported in the country and 138,362 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Florida has now become the epicentre for the novel virus, as it has the highest average of people testing positive per capita with 55 people per 100,000 getting the novel virus. Louisiana and Arizona follow in their own case numbers.
The report listing 18 states in the “red zone” then outlined steps these areas could take to help stop the spread of the virus.
These steps included encouraging residents to wear masks “at all times outside the home” and maintain physical distancing from others. Public officials were also encouraged to close all bars and gyms and limit gatherings to just 10 people, which would roll back reopening in most, if not all, of the 18 listed states.
The White House document also revealed how 10 of the listed states, plus Washington state, were in the “red zone for test positivity”. This means more than 10 per cent of coronavirus tests taken in the last week have come back positive.
The 10 states on both lists were Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, was asked about the document during a press conference on Friday morning. His press conference involved a refusal to mandate masks to be worn statewide.
“I don’t think Georgians need a mandate to do the right thing,” Mr Kemp said.
He added he was unaware of the White House document that listed his state in the red zone on two key lists.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has taken a similar stance on mandating masks to that of Mr Kemp. California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in comparison, has recently mandated masks to be worn in public after coronavirus cases surged.
In Texas, Governor Gregg Abbott, a Republican, has also ordered the wearing of masks in most counties of the state where cases were surging. But he has not issued a statewide order.
Despite this White House document encouraging states, specifically those in the red zone, to slow down or pull back on reopening plans, President Donald Trump has pushed for states to continue reopening.
Recently, the Trump administration has pressured schools to reopen in the fall so children could continue their education in-person. This pressure included a threat from the president that schools could be denied federal funding if they don’t reopen.
Reopening schools will ultimately be up to local and state officials, with many saying they were basing their decision on where coronavirus numbers stood prior to the start of the academic year.
Polarized: The advice a former Trump supporter has for America
Portland protesters hit with tear gas and snatched into unmarked vans
JK Rowling US book sales lag following transphobia criticism
Did Apple and Google really remove Palestine from Maps?