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10 Apr, 2020 23:49

New DHS model predicts 200,000 Covid-19 deaths & surge in cases over summer if containment measures lifted after 30 days

New DHS model predicts 200,000 Covid-19 deaths & surge in cases over summer if containment measures lifted after 30 days

A new government model projects a steep spike in Covid-19 cases over the summer and 200,000 deaths if stay-at-home orders are lifted after 30 days, a gloomy forecast suggesting the US still hasn’t hit the peak of its outbreak.

The newest projection from the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services posits that the US could see hundreds of thousands of additional fatalities and 160 million coronavirus infections if state and city-level containment measures are ended after one month, the New York Times reported on Friday. Though the model makes only a “best guess” estimate of what coming months have in store, the figures put a damper on hopes that the country will reopen by the end of April, when federal social distancing guidelines are set to expire.

President Donald Trump, who for a time was anxious to see the lockdown measures lifted and the US economy revived, has become more cautious over time, sobered by previous projections estimating more than 2 million American deaths in lieu of any mitigation efforts. At a White House briefing on Friday, Trump offered a much less dire prediction, stating that the epidemic may be nearing its apex, but nonetheless said he was now weighing whether to extend the federal guidelines.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I ... hope to God that it’s the right decision,” he said. “It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

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In another scenario outlined in the new federal forecast – which the president said he had not seen – a total of 195 million cases and 300,000 fatalities could have resulted if the US outbreak was left “unmitigated,” with a wave of critically ill patients swarming intensive care units across the country. Though the model does not estimate outcomes if stay-at-home orders are extended after 30 days, it suggests that the epidemic will not let up over the summer short of continued lockdown measures.

The global Covid-19 death toll topped 100,000 on Friday, with nearly 1.7 million infections worldwide, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. The US remains the world’s top coronavirus hotspot, with more than 490,000 cases and in excess of 18,000 deaths, a disproportionate number of them reported in New York, the country’s hardest-hit state.

Also on rt.com Still climbing: Covid-19 death toll tops 100,000 worldwide – AFP

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