The Conference Board uses cookies to improve our website, enhance your experience, and deliver relevant messages and offers about our products. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this site is provided in our cookie policy. For more information on how The Conference Board collects and uses personal data, please visit our privacy policy. By continuing to use this Site or by clicking "OK", you consent to the use of cookies. 


While COVID-19 is having a different impact on each state, the US economy as a whole remains at risk

While each individual state in the US is fighting its own battle against COVID-19, the economy of the entire nation is at risk. That said, varied testing capacity, policy guidance, and social distancing criteria make it difficult to know how large this risk really is. The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided some helpful guidance to leaders around the world, however. According to the WHO, a government should resist the urge to reopen if COVID-19 positivity rates (the share of COVID-19 tests that come back positive) exceed 5% over a 14-day period. While positivity rates in each US state are subject to sample bias related to the state’s testing policies, the data are still a useful benchmark. By juxtaposing these rates against each state’s economic output (we use 4Q19 Gross State Product), a clearer picture of how much of the US economy is exposed to the virus and potential lockdowns emerges. Only 14 states in the US currently meet the WHO’s 5% criterion. The remaining 36 states (75% of US GDP) are grappling with positivity rates above 5%, and 13 of those (29% of US GDP) are registering positivity rates of 10% or higher—twice the WHO’s cutoff. While these numbers appear to have been improving in recent weeks, policymakers and business leaders should monitor them closely as they work to balance the public health risks with the risk to the US economy.


Our Experts

Thought leaders who provide trusted insights for navigating companies and the economy though COVID-19.


Bart van Ark

Managing Director and Principal Investigator


Lynn Franco

Director, Economic Indicators and Surveys


Ataman Ozyildirim

Senior Director, Economics and Global Research Chair


Matteo Tonello

Managing Director, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)


Gad Levanon, PhD

Vice President, Labor Markets


David Hoffman

Senior Vice President Asia and Managing Director of the China Center for Economics & Business

Ray, Rebecca 120 x 120.jpg

Rebecca L. Ray, PhD

Executive Vice President, Human Capital

Schrader, Anke 120x120.jpg

Anke Schrader

Research Director, the China Center for Economics and Business


Amy Lui Abel, PhD

Vice President, Human Capital Research


Thomas Singer

Principal Researcher


Dr. Uwe G. Schulte

Leader, Global Sustainability Centre and Program Director


Paul Washington

Executive Director, ESG Center


Ilaria Maselli

Senior Economist


Amanda Popiela

Researcher, Human Capital


Elizabeth Crofoot

Senior Economist


John Forsyth

Consumer Dynamics Leader, M&C Center


Cindy Cisneros

Vice President of Education Programs

Odland, Steve 120x120.jpg

Steve Odland

President and CEO


Jeff Hoffman

Institute Leader, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, ESG Center


Joseph J. Minarik

Senior Vice President and Director of Research


Erik Lundh

Principal Economist


Robin Erickson, PhD

Principal Researcher, Human Capital


JP Kuehlwein

Marketing Leader, M&C Center


Denise Dahlhoff, PhD

Senior Researcher, Consumer Research

Sabattini, Laura 120x120.jpg

Laura Sabattini, PhD

Principal Researcher, Human Capital

Schwarz Robert.JPG

Robert Schwarz

Senior Researcher, ESG Center


Chiqui Cartagena

Former Chief Marketing Officer & Center Leader, Marketing & Communications

Dr. Mahdy Al Jazzaf1.png

Dr. Mahdy Al Jazzaf

Executive Director


Devin O’Connor

Former Deputy Director, Economic Research



2021 Annual Employee Health Care Conference - San Diego

2021 Annual Employee Health Care Conference - San Diego

November 18 - 19, 2021 | (San Diego, CA)

2021 Annual Employee Health Care Conference - New York

2021 Annual Employee Health Care Conference - New York

October 28 - 29, 2021 | (New York, NY)

Support Our Work

Support our nonpartisan, nonprofit research and insights which help leaders address societal challenges.