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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 Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Trump says Fauci is "wrong" about coronavirus cases surge

President Trump and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci during an April daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump called out Anthony Fauci Saturday in a comment retweeting a video of the NIAID director explaining why coronavirus cases have been surging in the U.S.

Driving the news: In the video of Friday's testimony, Fauci explained that while European countries shut 95% of their economies, the U.S. "functionally shut down only about 50%." Trump responded, "Wrong! We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000.

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