US coronavirus curve may be flattening, but estimated death toll keeps rising. What does this mean?

US coronavirus curve may be flattening, but estimated death toll keeps rising. What does this mean?

The national curve finally appears to be flattening – for now.

The Johns Hopkins dashboard, which has become the statistical bible for data on the coronavirus outbreak, shows the rise of confirmed cases and daily deaths in the U.S. may be slowing, even as the national death total approaches an appalling 100,000. Worldometer statistics, run by the data company Dadax, hint at steady declines.

And the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington,a leading model, released projections this week that show a steady decline for daily deaths – falling to 100 or less by early August.

The positive trends, however, come against another grim estimate released this week: The institute estimates a total death toll of 147,000 by August, or more than 60,000 additional U.S. deaths.

As sometimes seemingly conflicting numbers roll out each week, it can be confusing for ordinary Americans to digest just where the U.S. stands in its battle against the deadly virus, experts acknowledge. But the encouraging data and trends shouldn't be wholly dismissed, they say.

Top takeaways from Senate hearing:Fauci says vaccine 'likely,' but not in time for school

Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, warns that projections have fluctuated greatly in the months since the outbreak began sweeping the nation. But she says the data provides promising reflections of nationwide mitigation efforts.

"Data is vital to informed decision-making," she said, adding the Trump administration, governors and other leaders trying to navigate the outbreak "continue to face unprecedented challenges."

Ogbonnaya Omenka, public health expert and assistant professor at Butler University, says the data points to a decline in new cases and mortality rates. However, the IHME estimates are hinged on "existing determinants" than can change at any time, he said.

With the antibody testing still in the nascent stages, and the unavailability of therapies or vaccines, the population remains vulnerable, Omenka said. The nation must get to the "endemic phase" of the infection – a containable level at which it could remain long term, such as chicken pox – before we can confidently start talking about the end of the pandemic, he said.

Blood plasma is processed at the New York Blood Center in New York City. An experimental treatment is being tried to use blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat patients who are severely ill with the disease.

"Based on current circumstances, we are not close to that yet," Omenka said.

Because the rise and fall of the curve is not uniform nationally, it's not easy to determine how to reopen safely, Omenka added.

"With the resumption of public activities in different states, we are yet to learn whether a resurgence in cases and mortality would result," he said. "Individual jurisdictions still paint the clearest picture of where we are."

Dennis Carroll, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development's infectious disease unit for more than a decade, says the data on deaths and even confirmed cases "is really a look in the rear view mirror."

"Deaths are about who was infected three weeks ago," Carroll says. "With the rapid suspension of these (mitigation) measures, we’re in a brave new world."

COVID miracle:California man with 1% chance of survival released from hospital after two-month COVID-19 battle

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says don't expect COVID-19 to disappear from the nation or the national psyche until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed.

“That is just not going to happen because it’s such a highly transmissible virus,” Fauci told a Senate hearing Tuesday. “Even if we get better control over the summer months, it is likely that there will be virus somewhere on this planet that will eventually get back to us.”

Enter the race for a vaccine. Fauci said he was hopeful a safe, effective vaccine could be developed by winter. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week that a global effort could compress the timeline that had been projected at 12 to 18 months but provided no new timeline. Researchers at Oxford University are the most optimistic: They hope to have 1 million vaccine doses by September.

Even the best estimates won't blanket the nation or the world in vaccine by autumn, when Fauci and others warn of a possible second round of infections.

Fauci warned again Tuesday that reopening the country amid the coronavirus may lead to "some suffering and death." Carroll agrees.

"What we are seeing in current data is a reflection of what we were doing was working," he said. "The pivot to reopening without adequate testing and contact tracing does not bode well for the coming months."

Stimulus plan:Democrats' $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal includes more $1,200 checks

Testimony at Senate hearing:Romney says US coronavirus testing is 'nothing to celebrate'

State by state reopenings:How America is reopening amid coronavirus pandemic.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/05/13/coronavirus-positive-trends-shouldnt-dismissed-experts-say/3115194001/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »