New projections warn that there could be a spike in deaths nationally due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as the country races to reopen and accommodate anxious residents eager to restart the economy.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) accurately projected that there would be approximately 60,000 deaths by early April, and is now projecting that by Tuesday, Aug. 4, there could be as many as 134,000 deaths due to the virus.
“This is the model which the White House relies on,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “When the director of the institute was asked why those revisions happened, the director said that rising mobility in most US states, as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus.
“That's a very nice way of saying when you accelerate the reopening, you will have more people coming in contact with other people - you're relaxing social distancing,” he continued.
“The more people in contact with other people, the higher the infection rate of the spread of the virus. The more people who get infected, the more people die. We know that. That's why the projection models are going up.”
Cuomo noted that there are costs involved in practicing social distancing and adhering to “stay at home” orders: a human cost, and an economic cost.
“There's a conversation that is going on about reopening that we are not necessarily explicit about, but which is very important,” he said. “There's a question that is being debated right under the surface and the decisions we make on reopening are really profound decisions.
“The fundamental question which we're not articulating is how much is a human life worth? How much do we think a human life is worth?”
Cuomo said that “the faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost; but the higher the human cost because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making. What is that balance? What is that trade-off? Because it is very real.”
According to IHME, the projection models have recently changed because they’ve started factoring in the reopening plans and reopening schedules that states have been announcing. Some projections have increased from 25,000 COVID-19 cases to 200,000 cases by June.
“To me, I say the cost of a human - a human life is priceless, period,” Cuomo said. “Our reopening plan doesn't have a tradeoff. Our reopening plan says you monitor the data, you monitor the transmission rate, you monitor the hospitalization rate, you monitor the death rate.
"If it goes up, you have a circuit breaker, you stop. You close the valve on reopening.”
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