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How Many Americans Are About to Die?

The Atlantic – A new analysis shows that the country is on track to pass spring’s grimmest record. “…Case numbers have nearly quadrupled since late September, when roughly 700 people a day were dying. If 1.8 percent of confirmed cases are translating into recorded deaths 22 days later, the U.S. is about to enter some extremely harrowing days. Every 100,000 cases would mean roughly 1,800 dead Americans a few weeks later. “I expect the U.S. to be reporting over 2,000 deaths per day in three weeks’ time,” Trevor Bedford [a genomic epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, using data from the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic, which compiles the cases and deaths that states report.] They were then independently analyzed by the forecasting expert Ryan Tibshirani at the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon, which works closely with the CDC on disease modeling. If we look back over the past several months, the method Bedford used has proved more accurate than other means of forecasting near-term deaths.concluded. “Importantly, this doesn’t assume any further increases in circulation and is essentially ‘baked into’ currently reported cases and represents conditions that take time to resolve and to be reported.” And this analysis does not factor in new dynamics that could make outcomes worse, such as the possibility that local hospital systems collapse, which many health-care workers and experts are warning about. Already, more than 20 percent of hospitals are anticipating a staff shortage this week—and the Mayo Clinic reported that 900 of its workers had tested positive in the past two weeks. Nor does the analysis incorporate the possibility of an overburdened testing system becoming unable to complete as many tests as necessary, which would depress case counts. Either of these factors could push or skew the expected death rate even higher.

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