WASHINGTON — As reopening plans either stall or move forward slowly across the country, the vast majority of states have not been able to drive down their infection rates, according to an internal Department of Health and Human Services map obtained by Yahoo News.
The map, which was circulated to federal agencies involved in the coronavirus response on July 1, shows that 36 out of 50 states have experienced no “days of decrease in confirmed cases.” Only 14 states show such decreases according to the graphic, and only nine of those have reached the critical threshold of 14 consecutive days of declining numbers of new infections, a critical metric according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The states showing decreases of at least a single day are Oregon, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Hawaii.
Washington, D.C., which is not a state, is also experiencing a decrease in new infections.
The states with the most sustained caseload drops are Hawaii, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. New York was the epicenter of the outbreak in March and April, but the state has since fought back the disease.
Because of reporting discrepancies, the document obtained by Yahoo News could in some cases contradict state-level data. A map showing day-over-day infections and reopening phases is disseminated daily through the relevant executive agencies.
Many states where the virus has recently gained ground, including Texas, California and Arizona, have paused their reopening plans.
Virginia, meanwhile, is moving into the third phase of its reopening, which allows bars, restaurants, stores and farmers’ markets to reopen, provided that adequate social distancing can still be practiced. Yet Virginia, according to the federal government’s map, has not reached 14 days of downward trajectory.
A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health said it “has a number of charts that indicate our case averages has been going down for quite a while.”
The department provides data on daily cases by the “date reported,” as well as cases from “the day closest to when symptoms began.” The averages for cases based on “date reported” do not appear to show a decline, and the most recent averages for cases based on “onset of symptoms” is not yet available online.
The CDC’s reopening guidance recommends that states proceed to the next phase of reopening only when they have reached 14 days of declining infections in their current phase. In recent weeks Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has warned about states “leapfrogging” over the guidance.
The effects of the rush to reopen can now be seen in surging cases.
July 1 saw 52,000 new infections reported across the United States, a record-breaking number that has some worried that the nation is losing control of the pandemic. Earlier this week Fauci warned that the U.S. could see as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily.
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