A startling new projection presented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows a possible COVID-19 toll uptick to 200,000 cases and 3,000 deaths daily by June 1.
The shocking numbers come just as dozens of states begin to drop strict social distancing requirements and open businesses to workers and customers at President Donald Trump’s urging.
A rate of 3,000 deaths a day would be about 90,000 deaths a month. That death toll rate would be a 70% increase from the current average of 1,750 a day. The number of current cases of COVID-19 in the nation is about 25,000 daily.
The projected increase, which was incorporated into a chart prepared by FEMA that appeared to include information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be linked to both relaxed safety measures across the country and increased testing that will uncover more cases. It wasn’t clear what the figures were based on in the document — or what was affecting or could turn around the numbers.
The report, which was first reported by The New York Times, indicated that cases are on the rise in areas around the Great Lakes, in Southern California and in sections of the South and the Northeast.
“The vast majority of Americans have not been exposed to the virus, there is not immunity, and the initial conditions that allowed this virus to spread really quickly across America haven’t really changed,” Johns Hopkins University infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Chang told the Times.
The Washington Post reported that the model was created by Justin Lessler, associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins. He told the Post that the information was a “work in progress” that included a range of possibilities and was not intended as a completed “forecast.” He told the Post, however, that the numbers indicate how quickly COVID-19 could spin out of control, depending on political actions taken.
“There are reopening scenarios where it could get out of control very quickly,” Lessler warned.
The White House dismissed the report, saying that the projections haven’t been vetted by Trump’s coronavirus task force.
“This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Trump just raised his own prediction of 60,000 COVID-19 deaths, made just last month, to up to a total of 100,000. “In terms of death … we’re at the lower level, the lowest level predicted,” he declared Sunday.
White House coronavirus task force health adviser Dr. Deborah Birx said in an interview Sunday that “our projections have always been” between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost, and that’s with “full mitigation,” meaning safety measures and social distancing.
Currently, there are more than 1.1 million confirmed cases in the U.S., with close to 70,000 deaths from COVID-19.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington on Monday increased its projections to 135,000 COVID-19 deaths through July. The number is significantly lower than the FEMA report but nearly double its earlier estimate because of relaxed safety measures in several states.