Several Southern states are seeing a rise in new coronavirus cases, moving them further away from an important target for safely reopening parts of their economies.
Why it matters: The Trump administration's reopening guidelines call for a consistent decline in new cases before proceeding with the process — and some states are proceeding even without clearing that threshold.
Between the lines: The total number of cases is an important piece of the puzzle — but it's only one piece.
- The number of new cases will rise as a state performs more testing, so looking at this metric in isolation can give the false impression of a worsening outbreak.
Yes, but: Some of the states whose new cases are increasing in this analysis — including Arkansas, North Carolina and North Dakota — also fare poorly in a more holistic analysis that also accounts for other metrics.
Where it stands: South Dakota has made the most progress over the past week, cutting its new cases by over half.
- North Carolina and North Dakota bring up the rear, with spikes in new cases of around 40%.
This analysis uses a seven-day average, to minimize the distortions of reporting delays or similar technical issues, and compares that average to the average from the week before.
- We're using data from the COVID Tracking Project. Other sources, including the widely used Johns Hopkins database, show different results for some states, including Washington state.
The bottom line: No one measurement tells the whole story, and there are signs that most of the country is moving in the right direction.
- But there's a big difference between moving in the right direction and being out of the woods, and there will be no victory over the coronavirus without a sustained, documented decline in the number of new cases.