Vermont joins 47 other states in Covid red zone

This article was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C.

Vermont joined the 47 other states and the District of Columbia considered to be in the “red zone” for new coronavirus cases this week, according to the latest White House coronavirus task force reports to governors and senior state officials — a dangerous trend as many Americans prepare to gather with relatives for Thanksgiving. You can read the 12-page Vermont report here.

Hawaii and Maine are now the only two states outside of the red zone, seeing fewer than 101 new cases last week per 100,000 residents. Thirty-six states are in the red zone for new deaths per 100,000 residents.

“There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties,” the White House task force told states Nov. 22.

The White House reports are not made public, but the Center for Public Integrity is collecting and publishing them.

The task force recommendations include conducting antigen testing of people with no symptoms, wearing masks in public at all times, reducing capacity for “public and private indoor spaces” and educating people on the risks of any unmasked interactions indoors with those outside their household.

That’s precisely the type of interaction that people visiting relatives for Thanksgiving will have this week.

“The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive, focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals,” the White House said. “This must be combined with significant behavior change of all Americans.”

States with aggressive mitigation efforts are beginning to see an impact even as the weather cools, the task force said in its reports. “However, in many areas of the country, mitigation efforts are inadequate or too recently implemented to see a significant impact. All states and all counties must flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.”

Maryland, for example, saw a 49 percent increase in its rate of new Covid-19 cases and a 53 percent increase in the rate of COVID-19 deaths from the previous week, according to the state’s report.

“Maryland is showing alarming signs of a viral surge,” the task force said.

The states in the red zone for cases in this week’s report (meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the week prior), in order of severity:

States now in Red Zone by Severity

1. North Dakota
18. Missouri
35. Massachusetts
2. Wyoming
19. Michigan
36. Maryland
3. South Dakota
20. Oklahoma
37. Florida
4. Minnesota
21. Louisiana
38. Alabama
5. Iowa
22. Tennessee
39. North Carolina
6. Nebraska
23. Ohio
40. South Carolina
7. Montana
24. Kentucky
41. New Hampshire
8. Wisconsin
25. Nevada
42. California
9. Utah
26. Arkansas
43. Washington
10. New Mexico
27. West Virginia
44. New York
11. Indiana
28. Connecticut
45. Oregon
12. Kansas
29. Pennsylvania
46. Virginia
13. Illinois
30. Arizona
47. Washington, D.C.
14. Rhode Island
31. New Jersey
48. Georgia
15. Colorado
32. Delaware49. Vermont
16. Alaska
33. Mississippi
17. Idaho
34. Texas

On Tuesday Nov. 24, the Vermont Health Department listed 49 new infections for a total of 3,762 in the pandemic so far with more than 1,000 coming in this month. Twenty two people are currently hospitalized with five of those in intensive care. The state’s percent positivity rate is currently at 1.4 percent and 64 patients have died of the disease.

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