CORONAVIRUS

COVID’s US Toll Projected To Drop Sharply By The End Of July

May 5, 2021, 10:38 AM
FILE (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
FILE (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Teams of experts are projecting COVID-19’s toll on the U.S. will fall sharply by the end of July, according to research released by the government Wednesday.

But they also warn that a “substantial increase” in hospitalizations and deaths is possible if unvaccinated people do not follow basic precautions such as wearing a mask and keeping their distance from others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paper included projections from six research groups. Their assignment was to predict the course of the U.S. epidemic between now and September under different scenarios, depending on how the vaccination drive proceeds and how people behave.

Mainly, it’s good news. Even under scenarios involving disappointing vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to drop dramatically by the end of July and continue to fall afterward.

The CDC is now reporting an average of about 350,000 new cases each week, 35,000 hospitalizations and over 4,000 deaths.

Under the most optimistic scenarios considered, by the end of July new weekly national cases could drop below 50,000, hospitalizations to fewer than 1,000, and deaths to between 200 and 300.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, while noting that variants of the coronavirus are a “wild card” that could set back progress.

The projections are probably in line with what many Americans were already expecting for this summer.

With COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases plummeting since January, many states and cities are already moving to ease or lift restrictions on restaurants, bars, theaters and other businesses and talking about getting back to something close to normal this summer.

New York’s subways will start running all night again this month, Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week suspended all restrictions put in place by local governments, though businesses may continue requiring people to wear masks and keep their distance, and many are still doing so.

Many people in Florida have resumed parties, graduations and recitals. Walt Disney World lets guests remove their masks for photographs.

“It does feel like life is returning to normal,” said 67-year-old Vicki Restivo of Miami, who after getting vaccinated resumed outings with her friends at restaurants and traveled to Egypt — and felt “very comfortable” about it.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a goal of delivering shots to 70% of U.S. adults by July Fourth. Such a goal, if met, would fit in with the best-case scenarios, said one of the study’s co-authors, CDC biologist Michael Johansson.

Under more pessimistic scenarios, with subpar vaccinations and declining use of masks and social distancing, weekly cases probably would still drop but could number in the hundreds of thousands, with tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

“Something I am asked often is when will the pandemic be over and when can we go back to normal. The reality is: It all depends on the actions we take now,” Walensky said.

All the projections trend down, illustrating the powerful effect of the vaccination campaign. But there’s a devastating difference between the more gently sloping declines in some scenarios and the more dramatic drops in others, said Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Each of these differences are people’s lives,” said Kates, who is part of a Kaiser research team that has focused on COVID-19 and was not involved in the CDC study.

The U.S. death toll stands at more than 578,000. The CDC paper gives no overall estimate of how high the number of dead might go. But a closely watched projection from the University of Washington shows the curve largely flattening out in the coming months, with the toll reaching about 599,000 by Aug. 1.

More than 56% of the nation’s adults, or close to 146 million people, have received at one dose of vaccine, and almost 41% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Johansson said the paper is intended not so much as a prediction of exactly what’s going to happen but as a way to understand how things might unfold if vaccination drives or other efforts stumble.

By September, assuming high vaccination rates and continuing use of prevention measures, the models indicate new cases could fall to just a few hundred per week and just tens of hospitalizations and deaths.

The paper also sketched out a worst-case scenario, in which cases could rise to 900,000 per week, hospitalizations to 50,000, and deaths to 10,000. That most likely would happen sometime this month, the projections said.

However, the paper’s projections are based on data available through late March, when the national picture was somewhat darker.

The CDC paper “is already looking a little outdated, because we’ve seen cases continue to go down, and hospitalizations go down, and deaths go down,” Kates said.

Nevertheless, Johansson warned: “We’re still in a tenuous position.”

There is variation from state to state in how well vaccination campaigns are going and how fast restrictions are being abandoned, and that will probably mean some states will suffer a higher toll from COVID-19 than others in the coming months, Kates said.

“If you take the foot off the gas,” she said, “you can really have some bad outcomes.”

The paper doesn’t look past September, and scientists cannot say for sure what the epidemic will look like next fall and winter because it’s not known how enduring vaccine protection will be or whether variants of the virus will prove to be a greater problem.

Like the flu, COVID-19 could increase as people move indoors in the cold weather.

“My hope is with enough people vaccinated we will be able to get to something that will resemble maybe a bad flu season,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics who was not involved in the research. But “it’s not going to go away. It’s not going to be eradicated.”

___

Associated Press writer Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

...
Ashley Moser

Flu, COVID and RSV all trending down for the first time in months, says CDC

Major respiratory illnesses are all trending down for the first time since September, according to the CDC.
10 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
16 days ago
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, left, discusses schoolch...
Michael Houck

Salt Lake County ends its COVID-19 emergency status

After nearly three years, the Salt Lake County Health Department ended its COVID emergency status Tuesday. 
24 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
2 months ago
U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes guests to the East Room of the White House on December 14, 2022 i...
ZEKE MILLER, AP White House Correspondent

White House reveals winter COVID-19 plans, more free tests

The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveils its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter.
2 months ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2022, in Miami. Gov. DeSa...
FREIDA FRISARO, Associated Press

DeSantis seeks grand jury investigation of COVID-19 vaccines

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
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.
COVID’s US Toll Projected To Drop Sharply By The End Of July