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Peak US death rate likely to hit in 2 weeks: Trump

By Lalit K Jha
March 30, 2020 09:49 IST
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United States President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the peak death rate in the US from the novel coronavirus is likely to hit in two weeks as he extended the coronavirus guidelines, including social distancing, until April 30.

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump speaks about the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photograph: Reuters

Assuring his countrymen that he expects the United States to be on its way to recovery by June 1, Trump told reporters at a televised White House news conference that he had to extend the social distancing measures till April 30, based on the advice from his two top public health advisors and members of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus: Dr Deborah Bix and Dr Anthony Fauci.

"They demonstrate that the mitigation measures we are putting in place may significantly reduce the number of new infections and ultimately the number of fatalities.

"I want the American people to know that your selfless inspiring and valiant efforts are saving countless lives. You are making the difference. The modeling estimates that the peak and death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," Trump said during his second Rose Garden press conference on coronavirus.

The details of the new social guidelines measure would be announced on April 1, he said.

 

"We can expect that by June 1 we will be well on our way to recovery we think by June 1," he said as the latest figures portrayed a grim picture for the country.

By Sunday night, the number of people infected with COVID-19 climbed to over 140,000 and the death toll reached 2,475.

On Sunday alone more than 18,000 people reported positive for the deadly disease and 255 Americans lost their lives.

New York City alone accounted for nearly 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and around 960 deaths.

The coronavirus pandemic is expanding fast in neighbouring New Jersey, where so far more than 13,000 cases have been reported, with 161 deaths.

More than 20 of the 50 American states have recorded over 1,000 coronavirus cases -- the number from where the deadly disease starts skyrocketing.

Major disaster declaration has been notified in nearly two dozen states, in addition to Trump declaring a national emergency a week ago.

The state governments and local city officials have started taking tough measures against those found in the public or not abiding by social distancing measures.

For example, in Silicon Valley and New York, the local police have started imposing hefty fine ranging from $200 to $400 for those not adhering to social distancing measures in public places.

In New York City, Trump told reporters as to how freezer trucks are being brought to a city hospital -- Elmuhrst in Queens -- where he grew for the deceased due to fatalities.

The city is now running out of morgues.

"I have been watching them bring in trailer trucks, freezer trucks -- they are freezer trucks because they can't handle the bodies there are so many of them," he said.

The modelling put together by Dr Birx and Dr Fauci estimates that the peak and death rate is likely to hit in two weeks, he added.

"All of the flu models predicted anywhere between 1.6 and 2.2 million fatalities if we didn't mitigate. Some of them predicted half of the United States would get infected and have that level of mortality," Dr Brix said.

Based on this and the figures coming from the ground, Dr Brix said the White House Coronavirus Task Force has worked very hard together to really look at all of the impacts of the different mitigations that have been utilized around the world.

The Task Force, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has used that evidence base to bring that data and evidence to the President to consider for extending, which is not a simple situation when you ask people to stay at home for another 30 days, she explained.

"There are people who have to go out to work and we know the compromises that they're making. But, it's all to protect not only Americans, but the healthcare providers, the healthcare providers that are on the front lines," she added.

In the absence of such a step, Trump said, various models have predicted around 2.2 million deaths in the US.

With the mitigation like the one announced on Sunday, Dr Brix said the model predicts anywhere between 80,000 and 160,000 maybe even potentially 200,000 people succumbing to this.

"That's with mitigation. In that model they make full assumption that we continue doing exactly what we're doing but even better in every metro area with a level of intensity because we're hoping that the models are not completely right. That we can do better than what the predictions are," she said.

"The reason the President made the announcement today about going to the end of April is because we want to make sure that we don't prematurely think we are doing so great. We may be but we want to push it to the extreme. So take that with you and maybe you will be less anxious," Dr Fauci said.

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Lalit K Jha
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