(Reuters) – The United States may see 200,000 deaths due to coronavirus at some point in September, a leading expert said, while the total number of coronavirus cases in the US exceeded 2 million on Wednesday as governments eased restrictions.
Ashish Jah, head of the Harvard Institute for Global Health, told CNN in an interview on Wednesday that the number of deaths in the US will increase without radical action.
“Even if we do not increase the number of cases, even if we keep things on the same level, it is reasonable to expect that we are going to inflict 200,000 deaths somewhere in September,” Jah said. “And this is only in September. The pandemic will not end in September. ”
Ja added: “I’m really worried about where we will be in the coming weeks and months.”
On Wednesday, the total number of deaths associated with coronavirus in the US was 112,754, the largest in the world. Jah said this was directly related to the fact that the United States was the only major country to resume work without bringing the incidence rate to a controlled level — the proportion of people with a positive coronavirus result remained at 5% or lower for at least at least 14 days.
He said that deaths were not “something we should be doomed to”, and they could be prevented by increasing testing and contact tracing, strict social distance and the widespread use of masks.
In several US states, there has been a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in recent days, which has been of great concern to Jha and other experts who claim that authorities are loosing restrictions too early.
According to Reuters analysis, in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, the number of cases increased by 40% for the week ending on Sunday. Florida and Arkansas are other hot spots.
Nationwide, the number of new infections increases slightly after a five-week decline, according to Reuters analysis, which showed a total of 2,003,038 cases.
This increase is partly due to an increase in the number of tests that reached a record high last Friday at 545,690 tests in one day, but have since fallen, according to the COVID tracking project https://covidtracking.com.
This is also likely the result of more and more people moving around and resuming some of their business and social activities, as all 50 states are gradually opening up after locks to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Health officials called on everyone who participated in nationwide protests for racial justice to get tested. Experts fear that protests without social exclusion that occurred after the death of George Floyd in the Minneapolis police on May 25 may lead to another surge in the number of cases.
But vice president Mike Pence said he saw no signs of this.
“What I can tell you is that at the moment we are not seeing an increase in new cases now, almost two weeks after the first protests took effect,” Pence said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “A lot of people at the protests were masked and participated in some social events.”
(This story corrects to add to Arizona, paragraph eight)
(Brad Brooks report in Austin, Texas; additional Lisa Schumaker reports; edited by Bill Tarrant and Peter Cooney)