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Report: White House document shows Florida & Georgia among states in ‘red zone’

People wait in line outside of a COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Opa-locka, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
People wait in line outside of a COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Opa-locka, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A unpublished document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, suggests 18 states -- including Florida and Georgia -- are in the “red zone” for cases of the novel coronavirus.

The “red zone” was defined as “those core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and counties that during the last week reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10%.” The document, which was dated July 14, was prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Apart from Florida and Georgia, the 18 states that are included in the “red zone” for cases are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Florida and Georgia were also included in the 11 states that were said to be in the “red zone” for test positivity. The other states listed were: Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Washington.

The 359-page document outlines and suggests measures that the states in the “red zone” should take, encouraging people to “wear a mask at all times.” It suggests states limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer and maintain closures of bars and gyms.

In Florida, Miami-area authorities began stepping up enforcement of a mask requirement. Code and fire inspectors have authority to issue tickets of up to $100 for individuals and $500 for businesses not complying with guidelines to wear masks and practice social distancing. Police already had that power.

At least half of all states have adopted requirements for wearing face coverings.

But in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has banned cities and counties from requiring face coverings. He sued Atlanta late Thursday to prevent it from defying his order, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was prepared to go to court to maintain the requirement.

Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs.

It came as many states — particularly in the Sunbelt — struggled to cope with the surge and governments worldwide tried to control fresh outbreaks. In a sign of how the virus is galloping around the globe, the World Health Organization reported nearly a quarter-million new infections in a single day.

LINK: Facing The Fall

In the U.S., teams of military medics were deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals deluged by coronavirus patients. The two most populous states each reported roughly 10,000 new cases and some of their highest death counts since the pandemic began. Big numbers in Florida, Arizona and other states also are helping drive the U.S. resurgence that’s forcing states to rethink the school year.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday reiterated his belief that schools should reopen five-days a week for parents who want to send students back to campuses this fall and urged decision-makers not to be “swept up in fear.”

Some school districts, including those in Duval, St. Johns and Clay counties, are looking at pushing back school start dates as the number of new COVID-19 cases and virus-related deaths continue to climb.

The Associated Press contributed to this report