An unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, recommends that 18 states in the coronavirus “red zone” for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases.
The “red zone” is defined in the 359-page report as “those core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and counties that during the last week reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10%.”
The following states are in the red zone for cases:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
The report also says the following 11 states are in the red zone for test positivity: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Washington. The 11 states in the red zone for test positivity are also in the red zone for cases, with the exception of Washington state.
The report outlines measures counties in the red zone should take. It encourages residents to “wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance.” And it recommends that public officials “close bars and gyms” and “limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, which would mean rolling back reopening provisions in these places.
Remember: The report comes despite President Trump’s insistence that states reopen and a push to send the nation’s children back to school, even as cases increase.
“Now we're open, and we want to stay open and we will stay open. We're not closing. We'll put out the fires as they come out,” Trump said at a White House event earlier this month.
Devin O’Malley, spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence and the task force, didn’t dispute the document’s authenticity, and said the report showed “encouraging signs” amid the pandemic.
“When the Vice President held a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at HHS a few weeks ago, he reported that 16 states met the criteria for rising cases and rising positivity rate. As it stands in that report, there are only 10 states that fit that criteria. This is just one data point of many encouraging signs that we are seeing across the country as we continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” O’Malley said in a statement.
Dr. Deborah Birx also said earlier this month that people living in states with coronavirus surges should return to the White House's original "phase one" recommendations on gatherings.