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Latest Travel Warnings to Emerge From Harvard’s COVID-Tracking System



According to Harvard Global Health Institute’s (HGHI) COVID Risk Levels Dashboard map, Americans in 34 states (fully two-thirds of the U.S.) should presently be put under stay-at-home orders if the country hopes to contain the pandemic’s present widespread resurgence.

The advanced online tool, which allows users to view current infection rates occurring at both the state and county level, provides poignant optics on the recent surge of COVID-19 contagion sweeping the nation since communities and economies began reopening this summer.

HGHI’s color-coded system assigns each state a classification of Green, Yellow, Orange or Red, based upon its daily number of new COVID-positive cases, as measured over a seven-day rolling average. Those ranked as Orange or Red have exceeded the recommended threshold for safely sanctioning non-essential travel among residents.

COVID Risk-Level Categories:

Green – ‘On Track for Containment’: Less than one case per 100,000 people. Monitor with viral testing and contact tracing program.

Yellow – ‘Community Spread’: Less than ten cases per 100,000 people. Rigorous test and trace programs advised.

Orange – ‘Accelerated Spread’: Ten to 24 cases per 100,000 people. Stay-at-home orders, and/or rigorous test and trace programs recommended.

Red‘Tipping Point’: Twenty-five or more cases per 100,000 people. Stay-at-home orders necessary.

Since HGHI’s interactive dashboard was launched at the start of July, the number of U.S. states classified as “Red” has leaped up from four to 13. Across the south and west, wide swaths of states are seeing daily new-case volumes that put them firmly in the Red zone.

The number of Orange states or districts (22) has also spiked by 62 percent in under two weeks’ time, according to Forbes’ observations. Such infection levels constitute “accelerated spread,” according to HGHI researchers, which calls for residents to stay at home and jurisdictional governments to implement test and trace programs.

The other 16 states fall into the Yellow category, signifying substantial community spread in those areas. There are zero Green states or districts at this time.

Experts, including researchers at PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), are increasingly concerned that unchecked road travel is contributing to the renewed spread of COVID-19, as cases appear en masse in areas surrounding interstate highways and travel corridors.

“The high cases in the South and the West are now spreading northward,” said Dr. Gregory Tasian, a lead researcher at CHOP. “In the absence of a national policy, the spread of the disease from one state, one county or one area to another is inevitable. What we’re seeing speaks to the necessity of a national policy.”

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