Deaths from the contagion are largely expected to peak in the second week of April — later in states where the spread is off to a slower start — and will likely still cause deaths until July, an analysis by the University of Washington School of Medicine forecasts.
The final death toll is unlikely to be less than 38,000 nationally and could be as high as 162,000 — with the team predicting the most likely number to be 81,114 deaths.
The study — using data from governments, hospitals and other sources — admits that the estimated 81,000 deaths “is an alarming number.”
But it warns that the toll could “be substantially higher if excess demand for health system resources is not addressed and if social distancing policies are not vigorously implemented and enforced across all states.”
A key lesson is that social distancing should be kept in place longer than initially expected — and only relaxed if the US can more effectively test and quarantine the sick, said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics, who led the study.
“The trajectory of the pandemic will change — and dramatically for the worse — if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions,” Murray said.
However, even with lockdowns and social distancing, the terrifying spread of the bug across the nation is likely to completely overwhelm hospitals and the much-needed
“That demand for health services is going to exceed the available capacity of beds, and particularly ICU bed days,” Murray said.
“The national level is really quite profound,” he warned, predicting a shortage of more than 64,000 beds across the US — some 17,000 of them in ICUs — needed during the peak.
The United States has reported around 70,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 900 deaths since January. Globally, it has infected more than half a million people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The University of Washington has been at the center of the outbreak in United States, which first was detected in the state of Washington and has so far killed 100 people in that state, according to date from Johns Hopkins University.
With Post wires