A ‘new normal’ that experts say looks grim
Most of the United States has hunkered down for the past seven weeks, but the spread of the coronavirus has not stopped. It has slowed a bit in some places, including the hard-hit New York area, while accelerating in others.
Even so, governors in state after state are easing stay-at-home orders and allowing some businesses to reopen — which public health experts say could put us right back where we were in mid-March, when the virus was raging unchecked. Despite optimistic talk from the White House, the Trump administration is privately projecting that 3,000 people a day will be dying from Covid-19 by the beginning of June, nearly double the current toll. And with wider testing, the new-case count will surge to 200,000 a day, eight times the present pace.
Those figures, based on government models, are summarized in chart form in an internal document obtained by The New York Times. The charts show that the “flattened curves” of U.S. diagnoses and deaths never did turn downward — and are now likely to bend more steeply upward as restrictions are eased. “While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t work as well as we expected,” Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s former commissioner of food and drugs, said Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we’re just not seeing that.”
Mr. Trump, who has frequently understated the impact of the disease, said on Sunday that “we’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people” in all. That estimate is as much as twice what he was saying two weeks ago, but it is still far below what his administration now projects by the end of May, never mind the months thereafter.