CORONAVIRUS

Birx: Drop In US Death Projection Due To Americans Social Distancing Behavior

Apr 8, 2020, 5:58 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2022, 11:13 pm
Dr. Deborah Birx speaking at the White House coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday....
Dr. Deborah Birx speaking at the White House coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday.

(CNN) — One of the top medical officials on the White House coronavirus task force said Wednesday that models projecting the number of U.S. deaths from coronavirus have dropped dramatically in recent days because Americans have drastically changed their behavior.

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked President Donald Trump about the projections during a press briefing at the White House.

“My impression is those were the numbers that were set and those were set as an expectation quite a while ago. I think we are doing much better than those numbers,” the President said, before asking Dr. Deborah Birx, an HIV researcher and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to come to the podium.

She said that the U.S. was doing “much better in many cases than several other countries, and we’re trying to understand that.”

“We believe that our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary,” she said, but added that the models were based on “what America is doing.”

“What has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us that have been in the science field for so long,” Birx continued, “is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes.”

“That’s what’s changing the rate of new cases, and that’s what will change the rate of mortality going forward,” she said.

CNN reported earlier on Wednesday that an influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Wednesday, the model predicted the virus will kill 60,000 people in the United States over the next four months. That’s about 33,000 fewer deaths than the model estimated last Thursday. While the U.S. is still expected to face a shortage of about 16,000 hospital beds, it will need 168,000 fewer beds than previously expected, according to the new analysis.

New data on the pandemic’s trajectory — from the United States and around the world — has been fed into the model almost every day, driving the changes. The downward adjustment suggests social distancing may be working better than expected in some places.

The model’s first major shift came on Sunday, when a “massive infusion of new data” led to changes, according to the model’s maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Additional data on the pandemic’s trajectory has always been expected, along with methodological changes to fine-tune the predictions. And from the start, researchers at IHME, who built the model, have emphasized that it would change.

But the newest version of the model underscores just how important social distancing continues to be: It assumes those measures — such as closing schools and businesses — will continue through the modeled period, which is until August. And it still predicts tens of thousands of deaths.

Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, another task force member who is the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, pushed back on conspiracy theories suggesting that coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are being inflated, especially among those dying with existing underlying conditions.

“We’ve made it very clear, every time I’ve been up here, about the co-morbidities,” Birx told Acosta. “This has been known from the beginning. So those individuals will have an underlying condition, but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it’s related to a COVID infection.”

“Having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know, is particularly damaging to those individuals,” she added.

Fauci took things a step further, saying, “You will always have conspiracy theories when you have very challenging public health crises. They are nothing but distractions.”

“I would just hope that we just put those conspiracy stuff — and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now,” he added.

Birx’s comments come less than a week after she said in a coronavirus task force news briefing that models showed at the time that not every American was following proper social distancing guidelines.

“I know you’ve seen the slope on the U.S. versus the slope in Italy, and we have to change that slope,” Birx said at last Thursday’s briefing. “What it means in the U.S. is not everyone is doing it.”

“So we’re only as strong as every community, every county, every state, every American following the guidelines to a T,” Birx added at the time. “And I can tell by the curve … that not every American is following it.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

A woman is pushing a patient bed through a hospital hallway....
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Hospitals in the US are the fullest they’ve been throughout the pandemic — but it’s not just COVID-19

(CNN) — Hospitals are more full than they’ve been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. But as respiratory virus season surges across the US, it’s much more than Covid that’s filling beds this year. More than 80% of hospital beds are […]
2 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LOLITA C. BALDOR and KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

Congress set to rescind COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress.
3 days ago
Epidemic control workers wear PPE to protect against the spread of COVID-19 while guarding the gate...
Joe McDonald, Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

China has rolled back rules on isolating people with COVID-19 and dropped virus test requirements for some public places.
3 days ago
2022 FLU SHOT...
Brenda Goodman, CNN

2022 Flu vaccine appears to be a very good match, CDC says

(CNN) — This year’s flu shot appears to be “a very good match” to the circulating strains, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a news briefing Monday. However, she noted that flu vaccinations are lagging behind the pace of previous years. Through the end of October, CDC data showed […]
4 days ago
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Sa...
LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

Pfizer asks FDA to clear updated COVID shot for kids under 5

Pfizer is asking U.S. regulators to authorize its updated COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5.
5 days ago
FILE: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon July 21,...
TARA COPP, Associated Press

Keep COVID military vaccine mandate, defense chief says

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is making clear he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Birx: Drop In US Death Projection Due To Americans Social Distancing Behavior