Hot spots erupt in farm belt states where governors insist lockdowns aren’t needed

Grand Island and surrounding Hall County have 214 confirmed cases of coronavirus, nearly a quarter of the state’s total. At least 28 workers at JBS USA beef plant, Grand Island’s largest employer, have tested positive.

“The concern is where we are going, not where we are today,” said Chuck Haase, a member of the Grand Island City Council…

“Perhaps there are governors who believe they have the medical capacity to deal with this [without a lockdown order],” said Charles Branas, the chair of the Epidemiology Department at Columbia University, who developed a model tracking hospital shortages and virus outbreaks around the country. “But I don’t know if that is wise, because once it gets out it can spread unabated and overwhelm any medical system of any size. Every state is at risk and should have aggressive social distancing policies.”

Over the last five days, confirmed cases have increased more than 30 percent in North Dakota, 22 percent in Arkansas, 26 percent in Oklahoma, and 260 percent in South Dakota. That compares to roughly 26 percent over the same period in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic.

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