US milestone of 100,000 virus deaths likely by June

Ivan Couronne - Agence France-Presse
US milestone of 100,000 virus deaths likely by June
Medical workers take in patients outside of a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on May 04, 2020 in the Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hospitals in New York are beginning to see a drop in news coronavirus cases as New York continues to be one of the global centers of the COVID-19 outbreak
AFP / Spencer Platt / Getty Images

WASHINGTON, United States — US President Donald Trump now says his worst-case coronavirus scenario would be 100,000 deaths, but the country will probably reach that grim milestone by next month, according to several scientific models — none of which predict a summertime halt to the virus's spread.

"We're going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing," Trump said Sunday evening at a virtual town hall meeting on Fox News.

The Republican incumbent, who is vying for re-election in November, argued that without lockdown measures that have crippled the world's biggest economy, the toll would have been far greater — more than 1.2 million "at a minimum."

But Trump's end-game figure is likely far lower than the reality — the country has already seen 68,000 confirmed deaths, with about 30,000 new cases per day throughout April, and several states have started reopening before having brought the virus under control. 

Trump's own White House says 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19. 

According to an internal report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cited by The New York Times, new cases are expected to surge from mid-May, hitting 200,000 per day by June 1, with the daily death toll almost doubling to 3,000.

Even if lifting lockdown measures did not cause case numbers to spike, the nature of the epidemic is such that more bleak figures are inevitable.

"My personal best guess is that we are going to reach 100,000 deaths around the beginning of June," Nicholas Reich, an associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Massachusetts, told AFP.

Reich's lab has looked at several major models to come up with an average trajectory for the epidemic's development — that curve indicates the United States can expect to hit 90,000 deaths by May 23. 

And yet, many Americans appear to have already decided they have had enough of living under lockdown — according to anonymous data provided by phone apps and other platforms and analyzed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

"There have been many, many states where mobility is starting to go up, even before the social distancing mandates are coming off," said the institute's director Christopher Murray.

"This rise in mobility, the last week or 10 days, is likely leading to some increased transmissions."

The IHME — whose initial projections for the pandemic were criticized as too optimistic — has heavily revised its forecast: from 72,000, it now predicts 134,000 people will die of COVID-19 by August 4. It expects the 100,000 mark to be reached by May 21.

Big country

Of nine models cited on May 1 by the CDC, at least three of them predicted that 100,000 fatalities would be recorded in four weeks' time, including two put together by Columbia University in New York.

One from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bets on 113,000 deaths by June 1. 

Few current models go beyond a four-week window, given the uncertainty of the situation. And of course, all of these forecasts come with the usual margin of error -- sometimes totalling tens of thousands of deaths.

Epidemiologists consistently caution that no model should be taken on its own, as each is based on different hypotheses.

The most difficult element to factor in is how people will behave over the coming months.

Will they wear masks in public? How many will keep working from home? How many "non-essential" trips will people make to stores or restaurants? When will the country return to pre-pandemic standards of going out, or will it ever?

"We're at an inflection point right now, where some states are opening up, and some aren't," Reich said. "There's an added layer of uncertainty."

In the United States, initial hotspots like New York and New Jersey have been replaced by new ones. In Texas, Illinois and the US capital, the number of new cases is growing. In California and Florida, it is starting to level off. 

"The epicenters of today may not be the epicenters of tomorrow," said David Rubin, a physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

His team identified heat as a moderating factor that could help keep the death toll down, but he warned: "Temperature alone is not going to save you," including in places like Texas where stores have reopened.

IHME researchers found a similar correlation: for every degree Celsius increase, they observed about a two percent drop in transmission, according to Murray — although he cautioned that social distancing remained far more effective than sunshine in curbing transmissions.

vuukle comment



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 1, 2023 - 2:35pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

October 1, 2023 - 2:35pm

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says on Sunday that he had contracted COVID-19, testing positive at a key point in his flailing campaign for re-election.

Hipkins saYS on his official social media feed that he would need to isolate for up to five days -- less than two weeks before his country's general election.

The leader of the centre-left Labour Party said he started to experience cold symptoms on Saturday and had cancelled most of his weekend engagements. — AFP

August 18, 2023 - 4:25pm

The World Health Organization and US health authorities say Friday they are closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19, although the potential impact of BA.2.86 is currently unknown. 

The WHO classified the new variant as one under surveillance "due to the large number (more than 30) of spike gene mutations it carries", it wrote in a bulletin about the pandemic late Thursday. 

So far, the variant has only been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States. — AFP

August 11, 2023 - 7:07pm

The World Health Organization says on Friday that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported worldwide rose by 80% in the last month, days after designating a new "variant of interest".

The WHO declared in May that Covid is no longer a global health emergency, but has warned that the virus will continue to circulate and mutate, causing occasional spikes in infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

In its weekly update, the UN agency said that nations reported nearly 1.5 million new cases from July 10 to August 6, an 80% increase compared to the previous 28 days. — AFP

June 24, 2023 - 11:50am

The head of US intelligence says that there was no evidence that the COVID-19 virus was created in the Chinese government's Wuhan research lab.

In a declassified report, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says they had no information backing recent claims that three scientists at the lab were some of the very first infected with COVID-19 and may have created the virus themselves.

Drawing on intelligence collected by various member agencies of the US intelligence community (IC), the ODNI report says some scientists at the Wuhan lab had done genetic engineering of coronaviruses similar to COVID-19. — AFP 

June 15, 2023 - 5:42pm

Boris Johnson deliberately misled MPs over Covid lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street when he was prime minister, a UK parliament committee ruled on Thursday.

The cross-party Privileges Committee said Johnson, 58, would have been suspended as an MP for 90 days for "repeated contempts (of parliament) and for seeking to undermine the parliamentary process".

But he avoided any formal sanction by his peers in the House of Commons by resigning as an MP last week.

In his resignation statement last Friday, Johnson pre-empted publication of the committee's conclusions, claiming a political stitch-up, even though the body has a majority from his own party.

He was unrepentant again on Thursday, accusing the committee of being "anti-democratic... to bring about what is intended to be the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination".

Calling it "beneath contempt", he said it was "for the people of this to decide who sits in parliament, not Harriet Harman", the veteran opposition Labour MP who chaired the seven-person committee. — AFP

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with