CDC Projects Up To 1.7 Million Americans Could Die From Deadly COVID-19 Virus

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Written by Dana Sanchez
CDC
The CDC projects up to 1.7M Americans could die from the deadly COVID-19 virus. People over age 80 are at highest but the risk begins to go up at age 60. Judie Shape, center, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, blows a kiss to her son-in-law, Michael Spencer and daughter Lori Spencer, March 11, 2020. They visit on the phone and look at each other through a window at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle. Most people recover in two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness, according to the World Health Organization. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

If the coronavirus has a 1 percent mortality rate and half the U.S. population becomes infected, that means about 1.5 million Americans could die.

In a worst-case scenario, as many as 1.7 million people could die if no effective cure is found and made available, San Francisco Bay Area internist Jordan Shlain reported on Thursday.

Shalin attended a panel discussion of infectious disease experts at the University of California, San Francisco. Panelists agreed that up to 70 percent of Americans could become infected with the coronavirus in the next 12 to 18 months, Business Insider reported. 

So far, the U.S. has reported 41 deaths and at least 2,084 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Feb. 29.

“The panelists did not disagree with our estimate,” Shlain wrote on his LinkedIn. “This compares to seasonal flu’s average of 50,000 Americans (dying) per year.”

People over age 80 are at highest risk from the coronavirus but the risk begins to go up at age 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People age 70 and older, or those with heart or lung issues, should go to the ER if they get sick. Doctors can’t cure them but they can give them IVs and oxygen to help their bodies fight the disease.

At least three different models built by epidemiology experts suggest that millions of Americans will get sick from the coronavirus based on what experts know so far about how it spread in China and the U.S., The Hill reported.

The CDC model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that 160-to-210-million Americans could catch the virus within a year. The CDC’s death scenarios ranged from 200,000 to 1.7 million.

The country’s 925,000 hospital beds would be insufficient for 21 million people might need hospitalization.

“This type of modeling work is commonly used as a planning tool during outbreaks and can help inform the public health response, as well as other policies to mitigate the potential impact on the U.S.,” a CDC spokesman said in a statement.

The UCSF panelists said that trying to contain the virus in the U.S. “is basically futile”, Business Insider reported. Instead, they suggested that “anyone over 60 stay at home unless it’s critical.” 

“We at UCSF are moving our ‘at-risk’ parents back from nursing homes, etc. to their own homes,” and not letting them out of the house, Shlain reported the panelists said.

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Another model built by experts at the Council on Foreign Relations and global health nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives found potential deaths could exceed 1.6 million if the virus carries a mortality rate of 1 percent. Resolve to Save Lives is run by Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, The Hill reported.

New data is incoming about the rapidly-evolving coronavirus scenario. The U.S. federal government has been slower to act than in other countries, pushing state governments to try and slow outbreaks. Colorado and Minnesota have opened mobile testing stations. Many states have discouraged or banned large gatherings. Several states have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to begin testing patients for the virus.

The CDC tried to suggest that anyone over age 60 not travel on commercial airlines. White House officials overruled that, the Associated Press reported. On Monday, the CDC urged people at “highest risk” to stock up on groceries and medications and stay home.