Dolores Park in San Francisco, California on May 22. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The spread of the novel coronavirus has not slowed in 24 states, according to a new model by Imperial College London that forecasts infection spikes as more people travel and leave their homes in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Nearly every state across the U.S. has taken steps to reopen their economies partially or completely, including some regions and industries that are deemed "low-risk" for spreading the virus, per a New York Times analysis.

What they found: Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio are at the highest risk in the college's model — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — followed by Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama and Wisconsin.

  • The researchers predict that deaths over the next two months could exceed the current national death toll by more than two-fold, if transmissions continue to rise as less social distancing is enforced.
  • They emphasize that rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioral precautions are crucial to slow the spread.
"Our results suggest that while the US has substantially reduced its reproduction numbers in all states, there is little evidence that the epidemic is under control in the majority of states."
"Without changes in behaviour that result in reduced transmission, or interventions such as increased testing that limit transmission, new infections of COVID-19 are likely to persist, and, in the majority of states, grow."
— Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team

Where it stands: U.S. counties most recently identified as having a high prevalence of coronavirus cases — or at least 100 cases per 100,000 people — tend to be in the South and Midwest, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • But, Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa have seen a slight decrease in cases within the last week.

Between the lines: Fauci noted at a CNN town hall on Thursday that he has "a little skepticism about models," as they "are subject to the suppositions and the assumptions you put into them."

  • This study does not account for contract tracing, wearing masks, mass testing or changes to workplace or transit systems to accommodate the virus.
  • Fauci has advised states that are reopening "to be on the alert" for "little blips" of infections as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted across the U.S.

Go deeper: Coronavirus cases are on the rise across the South

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