Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infection disease expert, says the United States could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci offered his prognosis in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, as the federal government weighs rolling back guidelines on social distancing.
‘I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,’ he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. ‘We’re going to have millions of cases.’ But he added ‘I don’t want to be held to that’ because the pandemic is ‘such a moving target.’
The bleak projection comes as the US leads the world in coronavirus infections, with 123,778 reported to date. The nationwide death toll surpassed 2,100 on Saturday, doubling figures reported two days earlier.
The government is particularly looking at easing restrictions in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak at the conclusion of the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus.
When asked about whether supported the move, Fauci said he would only support the rollback of social distancing guidelines in lesser impacted areas if there is enhanced testing in place.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infection disease expert, says the United States could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus death toll in America topped 2,000 on Saturday, more than double the number reported two days earlier
The US currently leads the world in coronavirus infections with 123,778 reported as of Sunday morning
The CDC has warned that the US is still ‘in the acceleration phase’ of the pandemic and all corners of the country are at risk
Fauci also addressed President Donald Trump’s decision not to impose a strict quarantine on parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after saying he was considering such restrictions on Saturday.
‘After discussions with the President we made it clear and he agreed, it would be much better to do what’s called a strong advisory,’ he said.
‘The reason for that is you don’t want to get to the point that you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its travel advisory late Saturday, urging residents of the three states to ‘refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately’.
‘What you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country and inadvertently and innocently infecting other individuals,’ Fauci said.
‘We felt the better way to do this would be an advisory as opposed to a very strict quarantine. And the President agreed, and that’s why he made that determination last night.’
Fauci noted that about 56 percent of the country’s new infections are coming from the New York City area, where 30,765 cases and 672 deaths have been reported.
While the Big Apple leads the nation in cases by a significant margin – several other cities including Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Boston are now being monitored as potential hotspots.
Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning and warned that no area will be spared by the pandemic.
‘Every metro area should assume that they will have an outbreak equivalent to New York,’ Birx said.
She said the Trump administration is working hard to push supplies such as ventilators out to affected areas to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed – as many across the country are already complaining of dangerous shortages.
‘Hospitals are so busy taking care of the people who are ill, they can’t be spending time doing inventory,’ Birx said. ‘We need to help and support that.’
‘The sooner we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they have put in full mitigation … then we’ll be able to move forward,’ she added.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed similar concern for new hotspots.
Dr John Brooks, head of the CDC’s Epidemiology Research Team, said that the US is still ‘in the acceleration phase’ of the pandemic and that all corners of the country are at risk.
‘There is no geographic part of the United States that is spared from this,’ he said.
Some experts have said that outbreaks in other parts of the country could be even more devastating than the ones seen in New York City because they are less prepared.
‘I’m worried that New York might not be the worst-case scenario when you think about other states that have even older and less-healthy populations, and fewer hospital beds available,’ Retsef Levi, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has developed modeling tools designed to help public officials prepare for the spread of COVID-19, told The Washington Post.
‘Every metro area should assume that they will have an outbreak equivalent to New York,’ Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning
New potential hotspots emerge in major cities as officials prepare for the worst
Officials in America’s biggest cities are taking extraordinary measures to ward off dismal outbreak projections as they plead with the federal government to increase testing capacity and send more supplies to hospitals bracing for an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Detroit currently has the third-largest outbreak behind New York City and Seattle with 2,622 cases and at least 31 deaths.
Officials have warned that the city, where poverty and poor health have been problems for years, will likely see a devastating surge in the coming days.
‘At this time, the trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York,’ said Dr Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center.
‘This is off the charts,’ she said.
Chopra said many patients have ailments like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. She also acknowledged that in Detroit, one of the nation’s largest African American cities, there is a distrust among some in the community of the medical system and government due to systemic racism.
‘In Detroit, we are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease,’ said Chopra, who worried about a ‘tsunami’ of patients.
Examination tents for drive-up testing are setup at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Friday in Detroit
Michigan has seen 4,650 cases and 111 deaths, prompting Trump to approve a major disaster declaration providing federal funds for the outbreak.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday morning and said that the state’s hospitals are already experiencing a shortage in supplies.
‘There’s not enough ventilators. We need thousands of ventilators in Michigan. There’s not enough N95 masks. We’ve got nurses who are wearing the same mask from the minute they show up from their long shift til the end of that,’ Whitmer said.
Dr Rob Davidson, an emergency medicine physician in Fremont, shared his own hospital’s struggles in a Twitter video on Thursday.
He said he had been forced to use just one face mask over the course of an entire shift due to the shortage, and warned that hospitals in the Detroit area would soon run out of ventilators.
‘We have hospital systems here in the Detroit area in Michigan who are getting to the end of their supply of ventilators and have to start telling families that they can’t save their loved ones because they don’t have enough equipment,’ Davidson said.
Chicago has also seen a spike in cases, with 1,882 infections and 15 deaths as of Saturday.
At the beginning of last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that the city could see upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations in the coming weeks and as health experts fear Cook County could become one of the nation’s next hotspots.
‘Forty thousand hospitalizations. Not 40,000 cases, but 40,000 people who require acute care in a hospital setting,’ Lightfoot said. ‘That number will break our healthcare system… This will push our city to the brink.’
The mayor later closed popular lakeshore parks on Friday after people failed to practice social distancing, despite a statewide shelter-at-home order.
The Army Corps of Engineers is now preparing to erect 2,500 patient quarters inside Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America.
The city accounts for about three-fourths of Illinois’ total as of Friday. At least 3,498 cases and 47 deaths have been reported across the state.
Governor J.B. Pritzker on Saturday announced that an infant with COVID-19 had died in Chicago, possibly becoming the youngest coronavirus fatality in the US.
The child’s cause of death is still under investigation. No information about the victim, such as their age or whether they suffered from any other health issues, has been released.
Officials said the death of someone so young should serve as a strong warning to anyone who isn’t taking the virus seriously.
‘If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,’ Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike said.
Chicago has also seen a spike in cases, with 1,882 infections and 15 deaths as of Saturday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that the city could see upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations in the coming weeks
The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to erect 2,500 patient quarters inside Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America
Massachusetts saw its sharpest spike in coronavirus cases to date on Saturday as the number of infections rose to 4,247, an increase of 1,017 from Friday. So far, 44 deaths have been recorded in the state.
Suffolk County, which includes Boston, has the majority of those cases with 843, including 37 deaths.
Governor Charlie Baker has cautioned that the number of cases in the state will continue to rise as testing efforts increase.
A stay-at-home order will remain in place until at least April 7 as all travelers arriving in Massachusetts have been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks.
President Trump issued an emergency declaration in the state on Friday.
Boston: Cars are gestured forward as medical personnel from AFC Urgent Care perform Covid-19 testing in the parking lot of their location in North Andover, Massachusetts on Friday
In the nation’s second-largest city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said cases were spiking, putting the Southern California region on track to match New York City’s infection figures in the next five days.
On Saturday, 344 new COVID-19 cases and six new deaths were reported in Los Angeles County, bringing the totals to 1,804 and 32 respectively.
Garcetti spoke as he and California’s governor, who ordered all coronavirus-related evictions banned through May 31, toured a newly arrived naval hospital ship equipped with 1,000 patient beds at the Port of Los Angeles.
Its sister vessel is to be deployed to New York Harbor in the near future.
At the Riverside County Fairground east of Los Angeles, California National Guard troops were setting up a 125-bed medical station to serve residents of the Coachella Valley, an area teeming with elderly retirees considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
More than 5,400 infections have been reported across California, including 116 deaths.
Los Angeles: Retired nurse Donna holds an American flag as she waves toward the USNS Mercy Navy hospital ship after it arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday
New Orleans has seen the fastest growth of new cases anywhere in the world, which local officials say may be due to last month’s crowded Mardi Gras celebrations.
As of Saturday, nearly 1,300 cases and 70 deaths have been reported in the city of roughly 400,000.
Sophia Thomas, a nurse practitioner at DePaul Community Health Center in New Orleans, said the numbers of coronavirus patients ‘have been staggering’.
‘We are truly a hotbed of COVID-19 here in New Orleans,’ she said, adding that her hospital was trying to cope in part by shifting some patients to ‘telehealth’ services that allow them to be evaluated from home.
‘We are not through this. We’re not even halfway through this,’ said Joseph Kanter of the Louisiana Department of Health, which has recorded more than 2,700 cases, more than five times what it had a week ago.
The United States became the first country to surpass 100,000 infections on Friday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
New Orleans’ sprawling Ernest N Morial Convention Center, along the Mississippi River, was being converted into a massive hospital as officials prepared for thousands more patients than they could accommodate.
The preparations immediately conjured images of another disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the convention center became a squalid shelter of last resort.
As the new health crisis loomed, economic catastrophe had already arrived in the city, where many already live in poverty and the all-important tourism industry has screeched to a halt.
‘I’ve never been unemployed. But now, all of a sudden: Wop!’ said John Moore, the musician best known as Deacon John, who has no gigs to perform with much of the city shut down. ‘It ain’t just me. It’s everybody.’
Sophia Thomas, a nurse practitioner at DePaul Community Health Center in New Orleans, said the numbers of coronavirus patients ‘have been staggering’. Pictured: A quiet Bourbon Street in the French Quarter on Friday
US military is watching emerging hotspots to determine need for new field hospitals
The US military is currently watching coronavirus infection trends in Chicago, Michigan, Florida and Louisiana with concern to determine where field hospitals will be erected next.
Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military was doing its own analysis as well as looking at data on infections compiled elsewhere in the government.
‘There’s a certain number of places where we have concerns and they’re: Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana,’ Hyten told a group of reporters, when asked where field hospitals could head next.
‘Those are the areas that we’re looking at and trying to figure out where to go next.’
The Army Corps of Engineers has already begun erecting temporary hospital sites at convention centers in major cities, including at the Javits Center in Manhattan and at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the Corps’ commander, said they were looking at potentially converting 114 facilities in the United States into hospitals.
A member of the Rhode Island National Guard Military Police directs a motorist with New York license plates at a checkpoint on I-95 over the border with Connecticut where New Yorkers must pull over and provide contact information and are told to self-quarantine for two weeks
President Trump proposes quarantine for New York City and surrounding areas after the Big Apple records more than 200 deaths in 24 hours
As officials across the country look to New York City as a warning of what could be coming, none are even close to overtaking the Big Apple, where 30,765 cases and 672 deaths have been reported to date.
Mayor Bill de Blasio warned on Friday that the city’s strained healthcare system has the personnel and supplies to make it through next week, but beyond that is uncertain.
‘After next Sunday, April 5, is when I get very, very worried about everything we’re gonna need,’ he said, saying that an infusion of medical staff and equipment was needed to stave of disaster.
New York state accounts for nearly half of the countries coronavirus infections and deaths, with 53,299 and 827 to date.
Trump speaks in front of the US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, Saturday. He said he is considering quarantining New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey in a desperate effort to slow the spread of coronavirus
On Saturday, President Donald Trump said he was considering quarantining the ‘heavily infected’ state, and parts of neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey in a desperate effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
He backed down from that proposal hours later and instead ordered a travel advisory after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the quarantine would be tantamount to a ‘federal declaration of war’.
‘If you start walling off areas all across the country it would just be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American, anti-social,’ Cuomo told
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo said the tri-state quarantine would be tantamount to a ‘federal declaration of war’
‘This is a civil war kind of discussion. I don’t believe that any administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of states.’
Cuomo said that it would probably be illegal to quarantine New York, as well as totally ineffective, given the rise of other virus hotspots in the country such as New Orleans.
‘It makes absolutely no sense and I don’t think any serious governmental personality or professional would support it,’ Cuomo said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the advisory late on Saturday, saying: ‘Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.’
The advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, ‘including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply’, the CDC said.
The agency said that the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have ‘full discretion’ to implement the advisory.