Projections of 3,000 deaths a day represent “preliminary” data, researchers say

A draft government report projects COVID-19 deaths could reach about 3,000 a day by early June, data based on a model developed by Johns Hopkins researchers. The U.S. is currently experiencing roughly 2,000 deaths and 30,000 new cases a day, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, as states either begin or plan to begin relaxing their business closures and some social distancing measures. 

The data was provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in scenario planning, and what was placed in a slideshow presentation, first reported by the New York Times, is not final. The data shows one model of how COVID-19 could reach these levels, depending on various factors. 

The White House says this data hasn’t been vetted yet. “This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed. The president’s phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. The health of the American people remains President Trump’s top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions.”

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which prepared the information emphasized that the slide deck included preliminary data, and said it isn’t accurate to present the slides as forecasts.

“The information released in the leaked Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) slide deck published by The New York Times included preliminary analyses developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,” the school said in a statement. “These preliminary analyses were provided to FEMA to aid in scenario planning—not to be used as forecasts—and the version published is not a final version. These preliminary results are not forecasts, and it is not accurate to present them as forecasts.”

“The information illustrates that there are some scenarios, including the premature relaxation of social distancing, that are likely to cause significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States,” the statement continued.

But many states reopening their businesses have failed to meet the White House’s own criteria for when to move to the first phase of reopening. 

Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, tweeted Monday that the curve of cases may have flattened in the U.S., but it has plateaued instead of dropping — and that’s as states look to reopen.

“We still have spread at a high level: 30K cases a day and 2,000 deaths,” Gottlieb tweeted. “We’ve reached a national plateau for 30+ days. But in more than 20 states outside New York region, cases and hospitalizations are still rising. We need to prepare to deal with covid as a persistent threat.”

President Trump said during a Fox News town hall Sunday night that coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could reach 100,000, after only days ago saying deaths could be 60,000 or 70,000. Deaths surpassed 68,000 in the U.S. Monday. 

— Kathryn Watson contributed to this report

Categories: National, US & World News

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