Reopening states too early will bring deadlier outcomes, coronavirus projection models show

CNN's Jake Tapper reports.

Posted: Apr 28, 2020 12:51 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2020 12:51 PM

Seven coronavirus models show US coronavirus deaths will rise in coming weeks, but how sharply depends on how much "contact reduction" Americans practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The models estimate the numbers of cases and deaths on the state and national levels, and one model from the University of Texas at Austin makes metro-area projections.

Your top coronavirus questions, answered

"State-level forecasts vary widely, reflecting differences in early epidemic phases, timing of interventions and model-specific assumptions," the CDC says.

Models that factor in strong contact reduction suggest deaths will continue to occur, but will "slow substantially over the next four weeks," the CDC said.

"Conversely, models that do not incorporate as strong contact reductions ... suggest that total deaths may continue to rise quickly."

One model frequently cited by the White House coronavirus task force has upped its predicted death toll again, this time projecting 74,000 Americans will lose their lives to the virus by August.

The projection was adjusted because of longer peaks in some states and signs that people are becoming more active again, according to Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Last week, the model projected 67,641 deaths from Covid-19.

States including Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Hawaii and Alaska have started reopening.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state is weeks away from changing its stay-at-home order -- yet beaches in the southern part of the state were packed with thousands of people over the weekend.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 990,100 people in the US have been infected, and more than 56,400 have died.

"It's a safer strategy to get the number of infections in the community down to a really low level, and then testing and contact tracing and isolation can work," Murray said Monday.

Georgia, which Murray's team warned shouldn't begin reopening until June 28, started reopening small businesses Friday.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Georgia is "moving forward with data and information and decisions from the local public health officials, meeting and working within the guidelines of the great plan that the President has laid out."

Under Trump's own proposal for states to reopen in phases, Georgia does not meet the "gating" criteria.

Among the guidelines for "Opening Up America Again," states shouldn't start to reopen until they have a downward trajectory of documented cases in a 14-day period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests in a 14-day period.

"We didn't meet the full gating criteria, but we met several of them and we were approaching a plateauing, which made us feel that it would be safe to move forward because we had three things in place," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The select criteria, Toomey said, were adequate hospitalization, testing capacity and an increasing contact-tracing capacity.

As more governors start reopening their states and others set the date, they're pushing to get a better idea of how hard their state has been hit through antibody testing.

Experts warn there's still a lot researchers don't know about the accuracy of the tests, and the World Health Organization has cautioned that no evidence exists yet that antibodies prevent a second infection.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is encouraged that Covid-19 will respond well to a vaccine, once one is available, because there is evidence that patients "can mount a natural immune response," he said.

"There's no guarantee," he said, "but the fact that the body can do it gives me cautious optimism."

Hard-hit cities start testing asymptomatic people

Some cities and states will start testing residents who don't have symptoms to better understand how many people have been infected.

Los Angeles County will expand coronavirus testing Tuesday to include delivery drivers, rideshare drivers and taxi drivers -- even if they feel fine, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

"These are folks that are on the frontlines, helping us get to where we need to go, helping us have food delivered to our homes," he said.

In Boston, 1,000 asymptomatic residents will undergo diagnostic and antibody testing by Friday to evaluate exposure to the virus in the city, Mayor Martin Walsh said.

Starting Tuesday, Georgia public health workers will start visiting randomly selected homes in two of Georgia's largest counties to conduct antibody testing through blood samples. The program is voluntary.

In New York, about 15% of the 7,500 people who have been tested in the state's antibody study have tested positive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Those tests are "not ready for prime time," a former acting director of the CDC told Stat, a health news website.

"As we learn whether that means you are protected in the future, there could be value in that," Dr. Richard Besser told Stat, but "the science isn't there yet to be able to say what those tests mean."

"I worry that people will get a false sense of security and they can change their behavior based on the results of that test, or have a false sense of concern if it's a test that isn't detecting protections that they may actually have."

Though it's unclear when New York City's schools will reopen, the city is adopting a special grading system to accommodate home learning and will stage a special citywide virtual graduation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"You may not have the traditional ceremony that you were looking forward to, we're going to give you something you're going to remember for the rest of your life and you will cherish," he said.

States gear up to reopen in coming weeks

Meanwhile, some governors are moving forward with reopening their economies.

Missouri will start next week, with some statewide restrictions set to be lifted Monday, Gov. Mike Parson said Monday.

"Our plan is working, the health care system is not overwhelmed and we are winning the battle," the governor said.

Under the governor's plan, any business can reopen as long as 6 feet of social distancing can be maintained, and indoor retail businesses will have to limit their number of customers to no more than a quarter of their normal capacity.

In Kentucky, after the state started loosening restrictions for some health care services, the governor said the next phases of reopening will be announced week by week -- with more restrictions loosened weekly, starting May 11.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he will allow his stay-at-home order for Texas to expire April 30. A new order will include an initial first phase of reopening that allows businesses such as retail stores, malls, restaurants and theaters to open Friday with 25% occupancy.

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources intends to reopen 34 state parks, forests and recreational areas Friday with special conditions to minimize overcrowding and allow for social distancing, Gov. Tony Evers said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 149166

Reported Deaths: 3960
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24564781
Lake13079350
St. Joseph8788157
Elkhart8371132
Allen7815221
Hamilton5923113
Vanderburgh553050
Tippecanoe350914
Monroe319438
Hendricks3140130
Johnson2972127
Porter293248
Clark282157
Delaware279674
Vigo248837
Madison226991
Cass221020
LaPorte213057
Warrick186563
Kosciusko173121
Floyd172766
Howard157466
Bartholomew138657
Dubois133724
Marshall130626
Henry121828
Boone118648
Grant118039
Wayne117123
Hancock114144
Noble111333
Jackson107412
Morgan91540
Dearborn90328
Daviess83732
Gibson82611
Clinton81316
Shelby78329
Lawrence77832
LaGrange76615
Harrison73324
Knox69610
Putnam69515
DeKalb68611
Posey6745
Steuben5888
Miami5765
Fayette57515
Montgomery56422
White56215
Jasper5464
Greene51237
Scott50613
Decatur49439
Adams4645
Whitley4316
Clay4276
Sullivan42412
Ripley4178
Wells4125
Orange38624
Wabash3859
Starke3847
Huntington3695
Spencer3686
Franklin36325
Jennings35913
Washington3512
Randolph3378
Fulton3292
Jefferson3285
Pike31612
Carroll30813
Perry28914
Jay2816
Fountain2743
Tipton26623
Parke2182
Newton21111
Vermillion2111
Rush2034
Owen1991
Martin1950
Blackford1903
Crawford1481
Pulaski1431
Brown1283
Ohio1187
Benton1070
Union1020
Switzerland840
Warren731
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 183624

Reported Deaths: 5075
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30777635
Cuyahoga19345674
Hamilton16016338
Montgomery10000185
Lucas8123370
Butler7914123
Summit6476260
Warren398160
Stark3632178
Mahoning3605283
Marion333049
Pickaway295846
Delaware278427
Lorain265489
Fairfield256156
Licking244965
Wood242981
Clark237954
Clermont230237
Trumbull2208134
Greene214040
Columbiana209687
Allen201373
Miami192756
Lake186957
Medina177742
Portage154667
Mercer144927
Ross132833
Wayne129668
Richland127524
Tuscarawas119022
Athens11572
Erie113453
Darke109950
Madison102314
Hancock99521
Auglaize93616
Putnam89227
Lawrence89025
Shelby85714
Muskingum8284
Geauga82550
Scioto7919
Belmont77127
Union7263
Ashtabula71448
Huron6989
Sandusky69122
Preble58817
Seneca58214
Ottawa56030
Holmes55010
Fulton4896
Henry44917
Jefferson4474
Defiance44213
Fayette4288
Clinton42613
Jackson4257
Crawford4178
Logan3983
Champaign3793
Highland3774
Ashland3715
Brown3603
Knox35615
Perry35111
Washington33023
Morrow3252
Hardin31413
Williams3144
Coshocton29512
Pike2820
Guernsey2808
Wyandot28013
Gallia27413
Van Wert2213
Meigs20712
Adams1956
Hocking1899
Paulding1871
Carroll1867
Monroe14318
Noble1160
Vinton883
Harrison763
Morgan710
Unassigned00
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