States Reopen as COVID-19 Numbers Climb

Health workers protest reopening of businesses at the state capitol in Salem, Oregon on May 2, 2020. Image: John Rudoff/Anadolu/Getty
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Health workers protest reopening of businesses at the state capitol in Salem, Oregon on May 2, 2020. Image: John Rudoff/Anadolu/Getty

Even as 27 states have taken steps toward reopening their economies, new models show a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

Texas, Indiana, and Florida—among others—are easing social distancing strictures although they haven’t met reopening criteria set by the White House (such as a decline in cases over 2 weeks), The Washington Post reports.

More than 68,000 people in the US have died from the novel coronavirus so far, vaulting an early US prediction of 60,000 deaths, NPR reports.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that an internal government document includes the possibility of 200,000 new cases per day by the end of May. (The current daily total is 30,000.) The White House rejected the estimate. 

The numbers were drawn from preliminary work by Justin Lessler, an associate professor of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, according to The Washington Post. He said his work included a range of possibilities and wasn’t complete. Nor did he know how it became part of a government slide deck. “It was not in any way intended to be a forecast,” he told the Post. 

The Bloomberg School released a statement saying the information was provided to Federal Emergency Management Agency for scenario planning and was incomplete. 

And, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has more than doubled its projections of US COVID-19 deaths to 134,000 by early August.

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