Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci watches as Vice President Mike Pence speaks after leading a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

America has never had as many new, diagnosed cases of the coronavirus as it does today. 

Across the US, cities and states are pressing pause on their reopening plans, and instituting mask mandates, as the number of new cases in many populous areas hit all-time highs. 

But to hear Vice President Mike Pence tell it, the country is doing fine. 

“As we stand here today, all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly,” Vice President Pence told reporters after a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Friday. “The truth is, we did slow the spread. We flattened the curve.”

Here are 14 charts and maps shown by his White House Coronavirus Task Force that show how the virus is spreading faster than ever in many heavily populated areas of the southern US. 

Vice President Pence said that testing has been ramping up across the country in recent weeks and months. That’s true, but it’s not why the number of positive coronavirus cases in many southern states is increasing so rapidly right now.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

“We want the American people to understand, it’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases,” Pence said.

The data tells a different story.

Just look at New Jersey, one of Pence’s examples of coronavirus success.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

New Jersey now lets anyone in the state who wants one get a coronavirus test, but the number of coronavirus cases in that state is still declining. 

The number of positive cases is also going down in other previously hard-hit states, including New York, Michigan, and Connecticut — all places with plenty of tests.

Story continues

A look at positive cases in different metro areas.

White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

In fact, New York is testing more than 60,000 people every day. Only about 1% of those tests are coming back positive, so it’s not the testing that’s driving the uptick in coronavirus cases around the US.

New York has had the bulk of the country’s coronavirus cases thus far, but it’s misleading to think that other areas are safe now, just because they haven’t had as many cases.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Pence applauded “the extraordinary progress in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Orleans,” over the past few months — what he called a “precipitous decline from some of the worst moments of this pandemic.” 

That is true for those areas of the country, but it is not the right way to think about what’s going on elsewhere. 

In a lot of other spots around the US, things are getting worse, not better.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Pence said there’s a “rising series of new cases across the American South.”

At least 16 states are grappling with rising numbers and percentages of positive coronavirus cases. It’s a troubling sign that not enough testing is happening in those spots to assess the full scale of the spread of the illness. 

Many states are seeing their percentage of positive cases rise, even as they race to test more and more people.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

If it were true that the increase in coronavirus case numbers was just a result of better testing, then we should be seeing the percentage of positive cases fall, as more of the population gets tested. 

Pence also used the falling death rate nationwide to argue that “we’re in a much better place” than the country was earlier this spring.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Part of the reason that death rates are dropping across the country is that more young people are getting infected, but that does not mean their cases are not severe, or that this trend will continue.

Look at these top 10 “emerging” counties that the task force highlighted, which are centered in just six states. There could be many more deaths in these spots in the coming weeks, as infections worsen over time.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Arizona, Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and Washington are all seeing upticks in cases.

It can take up to a week or more during an infection for the virus to get really bad. 

“We are reminded, as we see cases rising across the South, that we still have work to do,” Pence said.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

To help combat the rapid spread in those spots, at least 10 different states and cities around the country are pausing or rolling back their reopening plans. These are the largest metro areas the task force is concerned about right now.

white house coronavirus task force briefing jun 26

White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Bars are now closed again in both Florida and Texas.

The number of cases being diagnosed in Florida continues to soar. On Thursday, it doubled.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Florida reported 8,933 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — nearly double the case count from the previous day, and a sharp uptick from when the state started reopening in May, with hundreds, not thousands of cases each day. 

Confirmed case counts are rising in all of Florida’s most populous counties. It’s an indication that the virus is widespread in that state.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

Pence said he’s headed to Florida next Thursday to “get a ground report.” 

It’s a similar situation in California, where the task force said infections are increasing in Los Angeles and the Central Valley.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

San Francisco is also pressing pause on its reopening plans. 

In Arizona, where more than half of the state’s residents live in just one county, the governor is now asking, but not ordering, residents to stay home.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force / US Department of Health and Human Services

“The rate of the spread of this virus is unacceptable,” Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said Thursday. “Arizonans are safer at home, and you can stay healthy at home.” 

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