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COVID19 Deaths

The deadliest day of the early pandemic in the United States was April 15 when the reported daily toll hit 2,752. By April 24, a total of 50,000 people had died from COVID19. The number of deaths doubled to 100,000 by May 27 and then increased another 50,000 within two months, on July 29. On average about 850 COVID19 patients have been dying per day since the end of July. Two months later, on Sept. 24, the total exceeded 200,000. COVID19 deaths have been soaring since the beginning of November. On November 25, there were 2,300 daily deaths nationwide. On December 3, the US recorded 2,879 daily deaths. The pandemic has now claimed more than 285,000 lives in the US.

Back in March, when the virus was still relatively new and limited mainly to a few significant pockets like New York, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, predicted that it might kill up to 240,000 Americans. It has now passed that mark, with no end in sight. As the following table depicts, the US passed this milestone on November 8.

Date Number of Deaths
Jan 21, 2020 0
April 28, 2020 58,351
June 8, 2020 112,000
July 7, 2020 132,041
July 23, 2020 144,000
August 9, 2020 163,252
August 31, 2020 183,399
September 24, 2020 201,959
October 16, 2020 218,000
October 29, 2020 228,700
November 8, 2020 240,777
November 14, 2020 245,700
December 6, 2020 285,541


Since July, the COVID19 case fatality rate has remained at about 1.5 percent, but the number of daily COVID19 cases has increased to 210,000. Multiplying the number of daily cases times 1.5 percent, leads to 3,150 daily deaths. Since deaths lag cases by about three weeks, this is the number of daily deaths that the US can expect in late December. Of course, the death rate could accelerate even more if the daily number of cases continues to increase and if hospitals become so overwhelmed, they must ration health care.

On October 23, the IHME COVID19 Forecasting Team published a modeling study in Nature Medicine that analyzed the number of cases, testing rates, mask use and cellphone data to estimate people’s movements from the first recorded case in each state through Sept. 21. They then estimated the death toll for each state, with or without mandates for social distancing and mask use. They predicted that deaths could exceed one million by February 28 if states continued to roll back mandates. It distancing mandates were reinstated, deaths could be limited to 500,000 (469,578–578,347). Of course, this model was published before the Thanksgiving holiday in which 6 million people traveled by air and 48 million by automobile, disregarding public health guidelines.

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