As President Trump pushes for states to reopen, he continues to assert that the coronavirus death toll is falling. But internal White House documents obtained by NBC News show that coronavirus rates are indeed rising in pockets across the United States, particularly in areas outside of the coasts. The report directly contradicts Trump's own claims.
The unreleased White House report was produced for a May 7 coronavirus task force meeting. The report tracks areas with increasing cases which includes Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; and Amarillo, Texas. Each location has seen recorded surges of at least 72.4% over the week prior. The hardeest-hit area on the list, Central City, Kentucky, saw a dramatic 650% increase in cases.
Reports of surges in Tennessee and Texas comes after both states began reopening nonessential businesses. Earlier this month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) privately acknowledged that reopening the state will lead to more coronavirus cases.
"Whenever you have a reopening ... it will actually lead to an increase in spread. It's almost ipso facto — the more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility there is for transmission [of COVID-19]," Abbott told lawmakers during a conference call.
NBC News's report comes after Trump tweeted Tuesday that "numbers are coming down in most parts of our country, which wants to open and get going again. It is happening, safely!"
While data from Worldometer shows that has been a decline in daily new coronavirus cases overall, Trump seems to be cherry-picking his numbers. Even with these declines, it doesn't mean that coronavirus is disappearing. In fact, its surge in the Midwest and Southern states suggests that the United States could have a new coronavirus epicenter if things progress unchecked.
After all, New York City wasn't always the epicenter of the coronavirus. In early March, Washington state — all the way on the opposite coast — wore that crown. With The New York Times reporting over 1.3 million cases across the country overall, the numbers aren't good enough to brag about regardless.
Along with tracking surges, the White House report listed locations to watch, including Charlotte, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Montgomery, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix, Arizona.
Notably, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Tennessee — states which all made the report — have no stay-at-home orders currently in place. Overall, the U.S.'s social distancing scoreboard is pretty sad. According to location data analysis firm Unacast, few states are scoring better than a C.