Apr 24, 2020 - Health

The South is vulnerable to a coronavirus nightmare

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Data: Surgo FoundationThe Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The South is at risk of being devastated by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Southern states tend to have at-risk populations and weak health care systems — and they're the ones moving fastest to loosen social distancing rules. That puts them at risk for the worst-case coronavirus scenarios.

The big picture: To stop the spread of the coronavirus, there are really only two options: stringent social distancing, or stringent public health measures.

Driving the news: Several southern states including Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina have recently announced that they're starting to back off of social distancing.

  • Our national testing capacity is still nowhere near where experts say it needs to be, and only some communities have announced efforts to build up contact tracing.

Between the lines: The Surgo Foundation created a coronavirus community vulnerability index that takes into account factors like socioeconomic status, minority status, housing type, epidemiologic factors and health care system factors.

Data: Surgo FoundationThe Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The bottom line: The South is already worse off in almost every way, partially due to policy choices made in these states. Its comparatively unhealthy population is vulnerable to more serious illness, and looser social distancing will enable the virus' spread.

Go deeper: Everything's deadlier in the South

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Infectious disease experts doubt that the coronavirus will slow its spread during the summer, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

By the numbers: More than 105,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 458,000 Americans have recovered and over 17.3 million tests have been conducted.

Jun 1, 2020 - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Coronavirus still has a foothold in the South

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Overall, new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are on the decline. But a small handful of states, mainly clustered in the South, aren't seeing any improvement.

The big picture: Our progress, nationwide, is of course good news. But it's fragile progress, and it’s not universal. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risk, and they can spread, especially as state lockdowns continue to ease.