As President Trump publicly claims that the numbers of COVID-19 infections are “going down almost everywhere,” documents from his own White House suggest that infection rates are dramatically increasing in areas that form the base of his political support.
An internal Coronavirus Task Force report from May 7 obtained by NBC suggests that cases are mounting at high rates in smaller urban areas and rural parts of the country as food processing plants and prisons become the epicenters of local outbreaks.
The data shows figures used by the White House to monitor infection rates in hotspot areas around the country, tracking outbreaks as they wax and wane.
Trump, for his part, continues to use his pulpit to push the idea that cases are declining. On Monday, he said, “all throughout the country, numbers are going down.”
The figures chart the 10 top outbreak areas in the country, showing case growth over the seven-day period up to May 7 compared to the previous week.
Trousdale County, Tennessee, tops the list with a 1,297.9 percent week-over-week increase, in part due to an outbreak at a state prison in the area.
The data also tracks “locations to watch” — jurisdictions with that are seeing case loads increase but at a slower rate than the biggest outbreaks in the country. These are mostly large cities in states that are beginning to relax social distancing orders, the data suggests, including Dallas, Texas, Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, and Montgomery, Alabama.
The data follows on previous indicators that COVID-19 has begun its spread into rural America, moving away from the handful of large, urban outbreaks that dominated March and April.
More than 80,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. since the pandemic began.
The true death count, however, remains unknown. The CDC released data yesterday showing 24,000 excess deaths beyond the expected norm in New York City over the period of the pandemic — a number that vastly exceeds the 13,000 dead New Yorkers who tested positive for the virus.