RELEASE: States and Localities Must Take More Aggressive Action, Including Bans and Closures, To Slow Coronavirus Transmission

Washington, D.C. — After weeks of delays in scaling up COVID-19 testing, the Center for American Progress has released a new column analyzing the epidemiology of slowing transmission of the coronavirus, assessing the current status of bans and closures implemented by states and local governments, and calling on governors and mayors to implement widespread bans and closures effective immediately. Key findings from the column include:

  • Current modeling suggests that as many as 100 million Americans will be infected by coronavirus; however, aggressive government action taken today to limit transmissions could reduce the total number of estimated infections to 513,000, a nearly 95 percent decline.
  • To keep the chance of at least one infected person being present at a gathering below 1 percent nationally, gatherings of more than 50 people must be banned. This threshold would help reduce the risk of transmission nationally through a total national caseload of about 66,000 people. Current estimates suggest that each person infected spreads the virus to 2 to 2 1/2 people.
  • Nineteen states across the country have taken no action to ban or recommend limiting gatherings or have provided little guidance to the public or localities on the need to do so. Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Phoenix have similarly taken no action to ban or recommend limiting gatherings.
  • Two states and Santa Clara County, California, have banned gatherings of more than 100 people. Nine states, Washington state in respect to three counties, the District of Columbia, and San Diego have banned gatherings of more than 250 people. New York state and Dallas have banned gatherings of more than 500 people. Illinois, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis have banned gatherings exceeding 1,000 people. Austin, Texas, has banned gatherings of more than 2,500 people.
  • Three states have recommended canceling gatherings exceeding 100 people. Thirteen states and Harris County, Texas, have recommended canceling gatherings of more than 250 people. Alabama has recommended canceling gatherings of more than 500 people. Richmond, Virginia, has recommended canceling gatherings exceeding 1,000 people. Other cities and states have recommended canceling “large” public events or those in communities with widespread transmission.
  • Fourteen states and 12 major cities have closed schools.

“To prevent overwhelming the American hospital system, it’s critical that state and local officials take decisive action, including extensive bans and closures, now to limit transmission,” said Topher Spiro, vice president of Health Policy at CAP. “Currently, no state or locality has done what is necessary to curb transmissions.”

Read the column: “State and Local Governments Must Take Much More Aggressive Action Immediately To Slow Spread of the Coronavirus” by Zeke Emanuel, Topher Spiro, Maura Calsyn, Thomas Waldrop, and Nicole Rapfogel

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.