WASHINGTON – A top health official warned Saturday that the U.S. could see a dramatic increase in coronavirus deaths during the next week in hard-hit areas such as New York, Detroit and Louisiana.
Data show that several hundred people per day could die in New York alone in the next six or seven days, said Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimated as many as 700 a day when the peak hits, she said.
Speaking of New York, Detroit and Louisiana, Birx said, “They are predicting in those three hotspots, all of them hitting together in the next six to seven days.”
“It’s going to be a very deadly period, unfortunately,” President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference.
Birx said places like Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C., also are a concern because they are “starting to go on that upside” of the coronavirus mortality curve.
“This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” she said.
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The grim predictions by Birx and other health officials came as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus marched to another record-setting pace early Saturday, with nearly 1,200 deaths in 24 hours as federal emergency workers tried to answer desperate pleas for respirators from dozens of states.
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has now topped 297,600, and 8,000 deaths have been reported. Worldwide, more than 1.7 million cases have been confirmed and 63,000 deaths reported.
New York has more deaths than any other area in the U.S., with 1,905 reported on Saturday.
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Yet officials warned that the numbers in the U.S. are about to get worse over the next few days.
Birx said that while the number of deaths are expected to increase, the number of cases could actually drop in hard-hit areas.
“What we’re seeing today is the people who were infected two to three weeks ago,” she said.
If social distancing and other mitigation efforts worked in New York, “and we believe it is working, the cases are going to start to go down, but the mortality will be a lag behind that,” Birx said.
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