Johns Hopkins interactive tool shows how state shutdowns, reopenings may have affected COVID-19 cases, deaths

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center updated its data visualization tool on Monday that depicts how shutdowns, social distancing measures and reopenings implemented by U.S. states may have impacted the spread and impact of the novel coronavirus.

The tool allows users to see when a particular state initiated a restriction, closing or opening measure from late January to early August.

For example, for Alabama, the Johns Hopkins’ tool depicts a Safer at Home order as well as other statewide decisions made in response to the pandemic that took place between April 28 and May 21.

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In the weeks since May 21, users can see that the number of both new confirmed daily cases and cumulative cases grew in Alabama, with the state extending its Safer at Home order on June 30 until July 31.

 The tool shows that Alabama issued an emergency proclamation on July 15 that included an amended Safer at Home order, as well as a statewide mask requirement. A slight decline in new confirmed cases followed after July 20.

The Johns Hopkins interactive tool is also helpful in shedding light on how certain state actions may have impacted COVID-19 death counts. New York, for example, had more COVID-19 deaths than any other state in the country as of Aug. 3 with over 32,000. The Johns Hopkins’ tool shows that new COVID-19 deaths peaked on April 12 with 1,017. A series of hospital and phased reopening measures were announced and enacted in the following weeks. 

From June to August, the tool shows new COVID-19 death counts in New York were significantly lower from June through August, except for a brief plateau at the beginning of July.

While it is difficult to definitively pinpoint the degree to which a particular reopening or closing measure may have affected the coronavirus situation in a given area, Johns Hopkins’ tool paints a revealing portrait of how the COVID-19 situation in the states has evolved before, during and after individual shutdown and reopening measures. 

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The lack of a cohesive federal coronavirus response has prompted states to institute their own measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 within their areas and localities. 

The web of state and local quarantines is growing more tangled by the day: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have ordered visitors from a whopping 34 states to quarantine for 14 days. Chicago and Washington, D.C., have each singled out travelers from about two dozen states. Other states have their own lists. Some have an option for visitors to get tested instead.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, warned  on Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic has reached a deadly “new phase,” saying that the virus is now more widespread than during its initial onset earlier this year.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Birx said, "What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas."

"To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus," Birx said. "If you're in multi-generational households, and there's an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you're positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities."

As of Aug. 3, there were more than 4.6 million confirmed cases and over 155,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States alone, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. There were more than 18 million confirmed cases and 690,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 across the world.

Austin Williams and the Associated Press contributed to this report.