• Coronavirus cases are on the rise around the US, with each day bringing a steady drip of new cases as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grind on.
  • Eight states are seeing a particularly worrisome rise in new coronavirus cases.
  • This comes as former FDA commissioners are warning that the Trump administration is exerting a dangerous level of political influence into the operation of the nation’s public health agencies.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday, seven former US Food and Drug Administration commissioners lamented what they see as a dangerous level of political interference from the Trump administration in the work of public health agencies trying to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s particularly troubling, continues the op-ed that was penned by Robert Califf, Scott Gottlieb, Margaret Hamburg, Jane Henney, David Kessler, Mark McClellan, and Andy von Eschenbach. Their concerns include the potential impact this politicization could have on the rollout of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, among other things. “For decades,” they wrote, “when we and our predecessors spoke as FDA commissioners about issues of regulation and people’s health, the public knew we were speaking on behalf of experts whose judgments were grounded in science. That is changing in deeply troubling ways.” At the same time, this warning comes as the pandemic is continuing to essentially move around the country, whack-a-mole style — as locales get hit and respond accordingly, spikes in coronavirus cases decline only to surge again elsewhere (and eventually even return to the original locale).

To get a good sense of states around the country that might run into trouble soon regarding their outbreaks of coronavirus cases, it’s helpful to consult the Harvard Global Health Institute’s map of COVID risk levels state-by-state. Using this as a guide, since it uses a baseline of 25 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, the following states are in a sort of “danger zone” and arguably need to take stronger measures soon to control their COVID-19 spikes.

Using that metric as our guide, and ignoring the states that are on the borderline (there are a handful with 23 and 24 cases per 100,000 people), these are the eight states in the danger zone, including their 7-day moving average of daily new cases per 100,000 people:

  1. North Dakota (51.5 cases)
  2. South Dakota (46.3 cases)
  3. Wisconsin (38.3 cases)
  4. Utah (31.5 cases)
  5. Iowa (28.2 cases)
  6. Arkansas (27.8 cases)
  7. Montana (26.5 cases)
  8. Oklahoma (26.5 cases)

The slightly good news is that if everything goes well, things won’t have to stay this way for too much longer. And yes, we know that’s a big “if.”

“If the FDA makes available a safe and effective vaccine that people trust, we could expect to meaningfully reduce covid-19 risk as soon as next spring or summer,” the FDA commissioners wrote, in the op-ed we mentioned above. “Without that trust, our health and economy could lag for years.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.