More Than 300,000 Deaths Likely If Restrictions Are Lifted: Federal Documents

More Than 300,000 Deaths Likely If Restrictions Are Lifted: Federal Documents

More than 300,000 deaths are likely if current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, according to newly obtained federal documents. Photos: Los Angeles African Americans have a higher coronavirus death rate than their white peers. LA resident Larnell Brown, 66, wears gloves and a mask outside the Crenshaw Christian Center, opened as a testing site for COVID-19 in South LA, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is shown in the Senate Chamber in Austin, Texas, May 23, 2011. Patrick said conservatism set him apart in a crowded GOP lieutenant governor’s race. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File.)

Some states are on the verge of reopening for business despite federal documents warning that more than 300,000 people will likely die if current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

According to federal health official estimates in early April, more than 300,000 Americans could die from the virus if all social distancing measures are abandoned. Later estimates said the possible death toll could be even higher. The federal documents, created by the Department of Health and Human Services, were obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

This is just what the federal health officials predict. Some outside experts claim the report is too optimistic.

While Trump is organizing plans to reopen America’s economy, federal health experts are saying the administration is underestimating the lives that could be lost. 

“At particular risk are the elderly and African Americans, already disproportionately dying, based on preliminary data,” The Center for Public Integrity reported. 

The documents look at various scenarios for how bad the coronavirus crisis could get. One model estimated that coronavirus cases and deaths would double about every five-and-a-half days. On average, one coronavirus-infected person could pass the virus to another 2.5 people, and 0.5 percent of infected people would die. As grim as this sounds, four of seven health experts interviewed by Public Integrity said these assumptions are “too rosy.” 

“Their model’s way too optimistic,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He said the government was low-balling the fatality rate. “They’re getting their analysis wrong.”

Others question the government’s calculations.

“This is just what a rookie would do,” said Juan Gutierrez, a mathematician who produces coronavirus models for the city of San Antonio. He explained the government underestimated how contagious infected people without symptoms could be and that the government’s calculations are off.

Health and Human Services and White House officials did not respond to requests for comment by The Center For Public Integrity.

Despite the revelations of the federal documents, some states are still going ahead with their plans to reopen. GOP Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick recently doubled down on earlier controversial comments he made about reopening his state, saying that there are “more important things than living,” USA Today reported.

During an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Patrick, 70, said he was “vindicated” after receiving backlash for his comments in March where he stated “lots of grandparents” would rather gamble their lives with the coronavirus than see an unstable economy for future generations. 

“I’m sorry to say that I was right on this and I’m thankful that now we are now finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it’s been long overdue,” he told Carlson.

“What I said when I was with you that night is there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,” Patrick continued. “I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”

While Carlson said that “every life is valuable,” he added that he believes “our country should not have been locked down.” 

President Donald Trump announced guidelines for states to start opening their economies. States that have taken his advice include Texas, Vermont, Georgia, and Ohio. 

Others are speaking out against Trump’s new guidelines and plan to lift U.S. restrictions across the board on May 1. 

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham cautioned Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on his decision to reopen a portion of the state’s economy.

Kemp announced on April 20 that certain businesses including gyms, barbershops, and nail salons could reopen on April 24, followed by restaurants being allowed to resume dine-in service on April 27, Fox News reported.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 70: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. He talks about the failed leadership of Trump, Andrew Cuomo, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and New York Mayor de Blasio.

While cautioning Kemp, Graham praised South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Twitter for allowing businesses to reopen on April 20 as long as they adhere to social distancing requirements and occupancy limits.

Graham tweeted: “I support what South Carolina Governor @henrymcmaster announced yesterday — a small reopening of our state’s economy with a focus on social distancing,” Graham posted. “I worry that our friends and neighbors in Georgia are going too fast too soon.”