US government projects virus deaths to soar in May

President Donald Trump’s administration privately projects that the daily death toll from COVID-19 will almost double by the end of the month, according to an internal document cited Monday by two US papers.

The government document forecasts that new coronavirus cases will surge to 200,000 per day by June 1, and the daily death toll to 3,000, according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post. That compares to a current daily average of 25,000-30,000 new cases, and 1,500-2,000 deaths.

The White House did not contest the authenticity of what it called an “internal CDC document,” referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but said it had not been presented to the president’s coronavirus task force, or gone through an interagency vetting process.

“This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed, said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

“The President’s phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with,” he added.

The CDC document predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning about May 14 — which would confirm the fears of many experts who worry some US states are moving too fast to reopen their economies.

The projection appears at odds with Trump’s claim that 100,000 deaths is a worst-case scenario — up from 68,000 at present — since at 3,000 deaths per day, the national total would quickly surpass that grim milestone.

Most US states have been under some form of lockdown since mid-March, which succeeded in capping the rise in cases — but the pandemic has been stuck on a plateau since early April.

Initial hotspots like New York and New Jersey are seeing their daily caseload fall, but other areas are seeing cases rise, including places like Texas which has already started re-opening non-essential businesses. (AFP)