US COVID-19 nightmare worse than grim prediction



Tens of thousands of people in the United States have died from COVID-19 in the fortnight since President Donald Trump declared the nation had likely seen the worst of the pandemic.

"The data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak on new cases," the president said on April 15, when the US had recorded around 28,000 deaths.

"Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress.

"We'll be the comeback kids, all of us. We want to get our country back."

The country now has an overall death toll of 54,876, with 965,910 confirmed infections, according to a coronavirus tally by John Hopkins University in Maryland on Monday afternoon AEST.


US President Donald Trump believed the peak had passed on April 15. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP
US President Donald Trump believed the peak had passed on April 15. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in the US was in the state of Washington on January 21. The first death in the US was reported near Seattle on February 29 however two Californians were found to have earlier died from COVID-19, CNN reported.

Modelling from the University of Washington School of Medicine, released back in March, estimated the US would see its peak of fatalities on April 15 at 2271.

The US became the first country in the world to report 2000 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours on April 10 and instead reached 2806 on April 15.

It has recorded more than 2000 deaths per day on at least seven days since the predicted peak of fatalities, including 2792 on April 21 and 2494 on April 25 this past weekend.

The Financial Times has been tracking COVID-19 deaths globally and reported that the US is "still struggling".

Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security, said the US has reached a "plateau".

"I would say that we are, for lack of better words, maybe near the end of the beginning of this pandemic in this country," he told Fox News Sunday.

"We have reached a plateau nationally at this point. I mean trends can change over time, but at this point we have a plateau in new cases per day."

Dr Inglesby added: "Unfortunately, it is a very high plateau."

He said the US is still recording about 30,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day and "something in the order of 2000 deaths per day", leaving the country "not out of the woods by any means".

The University of Washington's modelling prediction was also blown apart on April 14 when 3778 "probable" COVID-19 deaths in New York City alone were added to the nationwide toll by the city's health department.

NYC health department spokesman Michael Lanza said the victims never tested positive but their death certificates list COVID-19 as a suspected cause of death.

The US recorded its lowest number of virus deaths in three weeks on Friday, at 1258, but this jumped back up to 2494 in the 24 hours to Saturday night. There were 1330 more deaths confirmed by the end of the weekend.


The University of Washington modelling also predicted deaths per day would drop to under 100 after June 9.

"Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital and health workers, and government agencies," Dr Christopher Murray said in March.

"The trajectory of the pandemic will change - and dramatically for the worse - if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives.

"We hope these forecasts will help leaders of medical systems figure out innovative ways to deliver high-quality care to those who will need their services in the coming weeks."

Dr Deborah Birx and President Donald Trump. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP
Dr Deborah Birx and President Donald Trump. Picture: Alex Brandon/AP

On March 30, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Dr Deborah Birx warned, based on modelling, the US could see hundreds of thousands of deaths even if cities and states responded "in a uniform way".

She said the worst-case scenario projection for doing "nothing" was 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths.

"If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Dr Birx told Today.

"We don't even want to see that."

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, said "as sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it".

Dr Birx said the "best-case scenario was 100 per cent of Americans doing precisely what is required".

However, tensions exploded across the US last week as anti-isolation protests broke out in multiple states.


President Trump on Sunday dismissed reports he was considering sacking health secretary Alex Azar as criticism mounts over the US response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who risks losing public support ahead of the November election due to the climbing death toll, lashed out over stories on CNN and other media outlets.

"Reports that H.H.S. Secretary Alex Azar is going to be 'fired' by me are Fake News," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"They are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public."

Trump appears to have halted his daily televised briefings on the virus after suggesting that patients might be injected with disinfectant to kill an infection. He later claimed he had been speaking "sarcastically".


Originally published as US nightmare worse than grim prediction

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