By Elite Reporter
The United States of America recorded at least 2,074 deaths Friday, the largest increase in Coronavirus fatalities the country has seen since the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, China.
That brings the total number of reported deaths to 18,777. More than 501,560 people have tested positive, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the US.
The country likely saw a peak in its daily death toll, according to Dr. Chris Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who created the model the White House is using to gauge the peak of Coronavirus cases.
“We re-run the model, basically, almost every night and the new returns from different states are suggesting different peaks in different states, but at the national level we seem to be pretty much close to the peak,” he said.
His team’s model projects about 61,500 Americans will lose their lives to the virus by August and that’s if the country keeps social distance measures in place until the end of May. If they factor in states that may lift these rules by May 1, the numbers “don’t look good,’ Murray said.
Health experts say that while they’re encouraged by signs that those measures are having a positive impact, they warn re-opening the country too quickly could set the US back.
Despite the positive signs, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said Friday the US had not yet reached its peak in cases.
“So every day we need to continue to do what we did yesterday, and the week before, and the week before that, because that’s what in the end is going to take us up across the peak and down the other side,” she said.
Birx said in late March that based on models that take into account social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders in place, the US death toll could be at least 100,000. If Americans didn’t heed the warnings or follow those measures, that number could be as high as 2.2 million, she had said.
Government projections obtained by The New York Times show coronavirus infections and deaths could dramatically increase if social distancing and other measures were lifted after 30 days.
If stay-at-home orders were lifted after a month, the government report says, there would be a bump in the demand for ventilators and the US death toll could reach 200,000, the Times reported.
A Health and Human Services spokesperson told CNN that; “We do not comment on any alleged, leaked documents.” CNN has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment.
Murray told CNN Friday night that if mitigation measures were lifted by May 1, cases could go back up in the summer.
“If we were to stop at the national level on May 1st, we’re seeing (in models) a return to almost where we are now sometime in July, so a rebound.” Murray said.
“There’s a very substantial risk of rebound if we don’t wait to the point where most transmission is near zero in each state,” he added.
Deciding when to re-open the US
Meanwhile, local and state officials are cracking down on mass gatherings, such as church services, as Easter weekend approaches.
In Kentucky, authorities will be recording the license plates of those who show up to any gatherings and hand that information over to the local health department, which will require those individuals to stay quarantined for 14 days, Governor Andy Beshear announced.
He said the state is down to less than seven churches statewide, that are still “thinking about” having an in-person service this weekend.
“Folks, we shouldn’t have to do this,” the governor said. “I think it’s not a test of faith whether you’re going to an in-person service, it’s a test of faith that you’re willing to sacrifice to protect your fellow man, your fellow woman, your fellow Kentuckian, and your fellow American.”
In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp urged residents not to attend services in person and to instead opt for online or call-in options.
President Donald Trump, who two weeks ago said he was hoping to have the country open back up by Easter, said Friday he wouldn’t do anything until he knew the country was healthy again.
“I would love to open it. I have not determined anything, the facts are going to determine what I do. But we do want to get the country opened, so important,” he said.