Recent U.S. coronavirus numbers — our “rough week” continues

According to Worldometer, the total number of reported deaths in the U.S. from the Wuhan coronavirus reached nearly 19,000 yesterday (April 10). The daily total was 2,035. The previous two days saw totals of around 1,900. A week ago, we were averaging around 1,200 deaths per day.

President Trump says that next week will be another “rough” one. Some models forecast that we will reach our peak of deaths that week. If so, then by this time next week, the death count from the Wuhan coronavirus might exceed 35,000 in the U.S.

If we average 2,000 dead per day for the rest of this month, we will be at around 60,000 deaths by May 1. If we average 1,500, the death count will be around 50,000.

If we reach 60,000 by the end of the month, that would represent about a tripling of our current number in 20 days. The number of U.S. deaths from the virus has roughly tripled in the past eight days.

The IHME model keeps changing its forecasts. If I am up-to-date, it now forecasts around 60,000 total deaths in the U.S. from the virus. We might reach that number by the end of April.

I believe the IHME model predicts a large fall off in deaths from the virus in May and relatively few deaths in June and July. With the number of new cases per day not yet decreasing, I’m not sure we can expect a decrease in May deaths of the magnitude the model seems to contemplate.

As I understand it, the IHME model assumes that the current stay-at-home orders will remain in place through May. This, I take it, is the basis for predicting relatively few deaths from the virus in June and July.

However, I believe that stay-at-home orders will be lifted or modified in many jurisdictions before the end of May (and should be). Thus, the IHME model’s forecasts for deaths in June and July, even if accurate given its assumptions, may not accurately describe reality in those months.

The picture I painted above may be too pessimistic. New York has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. Currently, it’s a major driver of the national death count, accounting for more than one-third of yesterday’s deaths from the virus.

There are good reasons (e.g., the decline in new ICU admissions) to believe that the picture is brightening in New York. When it does, the national daily death count will decrease appreciably, assuming the situation doesn’t substantially worsen in other major jurisdictions.

Unfortunately, there are concerns about substantial worsening in cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and in the Washington D.C. area. But there is reason to hope that there will be no more New Yorks.

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