UPDATE, May 8, 2020: Three days after the publication of this article, the CDC released a revised “provisional death count” of 47,128 for the United States. Johns Hopkins, on the other hand, had revised its count upward to 77,178 U.S. deaths from COVID-19. These numbers are obviously pretty far apart, and presumably are derived using different methodology, but we provide them both, if only as evidence that even the experts can’t seem to agree on how dangerous the coronavirus is to Americans.
Americans looking for hope that COVID-19 might be easing its grip on the nation can turn to the latest count of new confirmed cases, which shows a level not seen in more than a month.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States posted 22,300 new, confirmed cases on Monday. A figure that low had not been seen since March 30, when there were 20,900 new, confirmed cases reported.
As a reminder of the sobering scale of the disease, the center reported that as of Tuesday morning, 68,934 Americans have died from the disease.
Health officials have said that a decline in deaths is expected to lag behind a drop in cases. Overall, the data showed 1,180,634 total confirmed cases as of Tuesday.
The data comes as some media outlets are reporting that new models predict an increase in cases and deaths as states reopen their economies.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which last month projected 60,308 deaths by Aug. 4, is now projecting nearly 135,000 Americans will be killed by COVID-19 though early August, according to The New York Times.
The institute said its new projected death toll reflects “rising mobility in most US states as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus.”
Some health experts fear that as states seek to reopen their economies, the public health trade-off will be significant.
“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,” Dr. Larry Chang, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins, told The Times.
The Times also claimed “an internal document” from the federal government projects that as states reopen, the death toll from the virus will reach about 3,000 people a day on June 1 with about 200,000 new cases daily by the end of May.
“This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Times.
President Donald Trump was more blunt, calling the report “fake news.”
“I know nothing about it. I don’t know anything about it. Nobody told me that. I think it’s — I think it’s false, I think it’s fake news,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Post.
Trump said the nation is beginning to rebound.
“I think they’re starting to feel good now. The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think,” he said.
“You have to be careful, but you have to get back to work,” Trump added. “People want the country open. … I guess we have 38 states that are either opening or are very close.”
Trump predicted the final months of the year would show a strong economic recovery.
“We’ll open it up and I think your fourth quarter is going to be very good,” he said.
“We did the right thing and now we’re bringing the country back. And I think there’s a great optimism. I don’t know if you see it, but I think there’s a great optimism now.”
New spikes in the virus can be addressed based on what officials have learned in recent months, the president added.
“Hopefully we can keep the plague, keep the virus at bay. If we have a flare up, we can put it out. We’ve learned a lot,” he said.
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