Where the Coronavirus Is on Track for Containment in the U.S.

As the virus surges throughout the South and West and heads north into the Midwest, the Northeast is the one region that has weathered the current phase of the pandemic the best. As of July 21, only one state in the U.S. is on track to contain COVID.

3 minute read

July 22, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Hartford Connecticut

Global Jet / Flickr

Covid Act Now, "a multidisciplinary team of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts, and public policy leaders working to provide disease intelligence and data analysis on COVID in the U.S.," according to its website, rates each state using four health metrics:

  • Infection rateAre active cases decreasing?
  • Positive test rateIs there widespread testing?
  • Hospital capacity: Is there ICU headroom "to handle a new wave of COVID?"
  • Contacts tracedIs there sufficient tracing to help contain COVID?

New Jersey was on track

"Gov. Phil Murphy [D-N.J.] is once again pointing to a research team's findings to salute something that's rarely determined in the United States: New Jersey is one of only three states on track to contain the coronavirus," reported Tom Davis for Patch on July 12 (source article).

Murphy, during his most recent news conference, pointed to the findings of researchers and epidemiologists from the group Covid Act Now which has determined that only three states — New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire — are on track to contain the coronavirus.

That was then. The "now" in Covid Act Now is just that—this is a dynamic website. As of July 21, all three states are off the coveted "on track to containment" list due to not scoring the optimum rating in any of the four metrics. New Jersey, with an infection rate of 0.90, scores "medium" rather than "low," in this category. 

On average, each person in New Jersey with COVID is infecting 0.90 other people. Because this number is around 1.0, it means that COVID continues to spread, but in a slow and controlled fashion.

In addition, with a score of 65%, it is rated "medium" as opposed to "high" in the contact tracing metric.

Per best available data, New Jersey has 800 contact tracers. With an average of 245 new daily cases, we estimate New Jersey needs 1,225 contact tracing staff to trace all new cases in 48 hours, before too many other people are infected. This means that New Jersey is likely able to trace 65% of new COVID infections in 48 hours. At these lower levels of tracing, it is unlikely New Jersey will be able to successfully identify and isolate sources of disease spread fast enough to prevent new outbreaks.

Vermont: Infection rate is 0.91

New HampshireInfection rate is 1.03

And the "on tract to containment" winner is Connecticut, with an infection rate of 0.81:

On average, each person in Connecticut with COVID is infecting 0.81 other people. Because each person is infecting less than one other person, the total number of current cases in Connecticut is shrinking.

As for the other three metrics, the Constitution State scores "low," "low," and "high":

  • Positive test rate: 0.8%
  • ICU headroom used: 7%
  • Contacts traced: 100%


Connecticut, along with New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, were the four hardest hit states early in the pandemic, and, depending what unfolds in the future of the pandemic, may continue to have the total highest death rates since the first official coronavirus death was recorded on Feb. 29, 2020. According to Worldometer, rates are per 1 million people as of July 22:

  • New Jersey: 1,780
  • New York: 1,676
  • Connecticut: 1,236
  • Massachusetts: 1,226
  • USA, total: 438
  • Arizona: 401
  • Florida: 242
  • Texas: 148

On a final note, on Tuesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, along with the governors of early partners New Jersey and New York, added 10 states to the travel advisory that requires travelers originating or returning "from a state that has a new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average" to quarantine for 14 days, making for a total of 31 states, as reported by Emily Brindley for the Hartford Courant.

31 states in order to reduce transmissions brought in from throughout the country where the infection rate is increasing rapidly.

Related in Planetizen:

Sunday, July 12, 2020 in Patch

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29, 2024 - Streetsblog LA

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Blue and white Pittsburgh bike share bikes lined up at a station with a red city bus on street in background.

Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit

For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.

7 hours ago - GovTech

New York MTA Bus

Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages

An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.

March 4 - Streetsblog California

View of Hollywood Reservoir with palm trees in foreground and Los Angeles neighobrhoods in background.

California's Stormwater Potential

A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.

March 4 - Cal Matters

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.