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Much of US experiencing ‘severe’ virus outbreaks amid ‘third COVID wave,’ researchers say

A screenshot of Covid Act Now's map of the U.S. with states color-coded according to their "Covid Risk Level." Virginia is labeled as experiencing an "active or imminent" COVID outbreak, according to data from Covid Act Now. Most of the country is at "severe risk" for a COVID-19 outbreak (maroon), or "critical risk" (red). Photo courtesy of Covid Act Now's website. -- Nov. 28 2020. (Covid Act Now) (Covid Act Now)
A screenshot of Covid Act Now's map of the U.S. with states color-coded according to their "Covid Risk Level." Virginia is labeled as experiencing an "active or imminent" COVID outbreak, according to data from Covid Act Now. Most of the country is at "severe risk" for a COVID-19 outbreak (maroon), or "critical risk" (red). Photo courtesy of Covid Act Now's website. -- Nov. 28 2020. (Covid Act Now) (Covid Act Now) (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

A research group who has been identifying states’ risk levels for a coronavirus outbreak had to create a higher, more severe risk level to account for the country’s current surge in COVID spread, cases and hospitalizations -- and a good number of states have been moved into that grave category.

Since the summertime, we’ve been following data from Covid Act Now, a group of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts and public policy leaders that monitors and identifies each state’s risk level for a COVID-19 outbreak. For months, the group had only four risk level categories: “low,” “medium,” “high” and “critical.” As of Saturday, however, the group has included a new, fifth risk level: “severe.”

The map of color-coded states in “America’s COVID Warning System,” as the group calls it, is doing just that with its daunting red hues: warning Americans that the entire country has reached a critical moment with the virus. Covid Act Now has even labeled this virus surge as the country’s “third wave” of the coronavirus.

As of Saturday, 20 states -- primarily those in the midwest -- are colored maroon, meaning they are identified as experiencing a “severe outbreak” of COVID-19. Most of the remaining states -- 27, to be exact -- are labeled red, meaning they are experiencing “an active or imminent outbreak,” according to the data.

Virginia is currently labeled as experiencing an active or imminent outbreak, which is considered the critical level.

Vermont and Maine are the only two states that are “at risk of an outbreak,” which is considered the high risk level. Hawaii is the only state experiencing “slow disease growth,” a medium risk level, as of Saturday.

There are currently no states labeled at low risk for a coronavirus outbreak by the group.

Like most other states, Virginia’s risk for coronavirus spread has constantly shifted throughout the year due to fluctuating rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, contact tracing and more.


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