While many states have begun reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. appears to be one of only two western countries to have not seen per capita death rates due to the virus level off.
U.S. cases of the virus exceeded 1,212,000 as of Monday, with deaths nearing 70,000. The totals are by far the highest worldwide, although several western countries with large outbreaks such as Italy and Spain have seen higher per capita death rates.
However, only the U.S. and the U.K. have seen their “curves” of per capita deaths continue to steadily rise instead of beginning to arc downwards in recent weeks, according to an analysis of statistics from Johns Hopkins University published on Monday by The Washington Post.
Outbreaks began weeks earlier in many of the countries that have begun to see death rates level off and it is unclear whether the U.S. could see similar changes soon. Some areas of the country have seen deaths clearly decline while they have risen in others, including in several states that have decided to ease restrictions.
Public health experts have become increasingly alarmed by what many see as a premature easing of preventative measures across the country. Projections and modeling of deaths due to the virus have also been revised as relaxed restrictions have been implemented.
A model previously cited by the White House, from The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, had predicted 60,000 deaths but more than doubled that already-surpassed total to nearly 135,000 deaths on Monday, noting that easing restrictions would mean “growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus.”
Despite the predictions and warnings from health experts, President Donald Trump said he believes some states “aren’t going fast enough” to reopen businesses amid the pandemic during a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday.
The New York Times reported on Monday that internal projections from the Trump administration predict that U.S. deaths will sharply increase and reach 3,000 per day by June 1. New cases have been added at a rate of around 30,000 per day but are expected to jump to more than 200,000 per day by the same date, according to the report.
“This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in response to the New York Times report, in a statement obtained by Newsweek. “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,” he added. “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.”