US Expects Virus Death Rate to Double Come June

This modeling bearing the logo of the Homeland Security Department has not been independently authenticated but was published Monday morning by The New York Times.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Roughly twice as many people will die of Covid-19 every day in the United States by this time next month, the Trump administration is projecting, according to modeling made public Monday.

Daily deaths from Covid-19 in the United States have been hovering between 1,000 and 2,500 for weeks, after more than a month of lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Predicting that the number will rise to 3,000 fatalities a day in early June, the situation update bearing the logo of the Department of Homeland Security comes at a time when states are beginning to relax physical-distancing measures and reopen more recreational businesses such as hair salons and movie theaters.

First obtained this morning by The New York Times, the report shows that the actual number of deaths have generally outpaced the projections since the start of the outbreak. In addition to Homeland Security, the logo of the Federal Emergency Management Agency appears on the report.

In terms of cases, the CDC expects the nation to see more than 200,000 new cases per day by June 1.

President Donald Trump had previously suggested that Covid-19 deaths would top out at roughly 60,000 in the United States, but a case tracker from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 67,000 people died of Covid-19 as of Monday morning.

The outdated projections relied on modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations that now projects roughly 135,000 deaths in an update Monday afternoon.

During a virtual town hall Sunday night on Fox News, Trump acknowledged the death toll could climb to 100,000.

“That’s a horrible thing,” Trump said. “We shouldn’t lose one person over this.”

Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at University of California, Irvine, said the projections in the model the Times reported Monday are in line with the current trajectory of the pandemic as the virus continues to spread across the country.

The report shows a downward trend in how many tests come back positive in New York and New Jersey, two of the hardest-hit states in the nation. Fewer positive tests are also anticipated in Florida and Georgia, which are among the first states to end lockdown measurements. 

Noymer noted that while New York and New Jersey are starting to see the other side of their curves, other parts of the country have yet to see the full force of the virus, making more cases and therefore more deaths likely going forward even as the better-known hotspots come down.

“People are talking about ‘will there be a second wave,’ well most of America hasn’t really felt the brunt of its first wave yet,” Noymer said in an interview.

As for states moving to reopen, Noymer said public sentiment for the lockdowns will sustain for only so long and that officials will have to be cautious in their reopening plans. Without the ability to lock down entirely for the next 15 months, the loosening of restrictions must be done gradually, he said — and even then will necessarily come with more cases.

“We’re in the land of tradeoffs,” Noymer said. “We should loosen, starting now, but starting very slowly. But there’s no loosening that doesn’t involve tradeoffs. And when I say tradeoffs, I mean more cases and when I mean more cases, I mean more deaths.”

A spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not respond to a request for comment on the documents, which bear the agency’s seal.

Though some of the data in the documents is credited to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a spokeswoman for the agency said the modeling on death counts and cases is not attributable to the agency.

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