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Without 'Much More Aggressive Shutdowns,' Warns, COVID-19 Could Kill 'Well Over a Million' Americans

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That scenario seems highly implausible based on what we know about the epidemic.
Without «much more aggressive shutdowns,» a New York Times editorial warns, «well over a million» Americans «may ultimately die» from COVID-19. The paper does not cite a source for that estimate, which seems highly implausible based on the death toll so far, projections for the next few months, the gap between total infections and confirmed cases, and a crude case fatality rate that continues to fall. Independent data scientist Youyang Gu, who has a good track record of predicting COVID-19 fatalities, is currently projecting about 231,000 deaths in the United States by November 1. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects 295,000 deaths by December 1. Assuming those projections prove to be about right, the Times is predicting that the death toll will quadruple during the months before an effective vaccine can be deployed, which might happen early next year. If we have a vaccine by April, for instance, the Times projection would require that deaths rise at a monthly rate of about 40 percent in December, January, February, and March. By comparison, according to Gu’s figures, the death toll rose by about 19 percent in June and 21 percent in July.

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