Health & Fitness

The US might see "one other 100,000 deaths by the day of inauguration" from Covid, the physician says

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Brown University's School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha, warned that the United States "could see an additional 100,000 deaths by the day of inauguration" as coronavirus death rates rise and health professionals sound the alarm.

"As soon as we get into spring, we could easily suffer 450,000 or even 500,000 deaths," Jha said in a Friday night interview on The News with Shepard Smith. "It all depends on us. If we do smart things we can avoid that. If we don't, we can easily get the astronomical 400,000 to 500,000 deaths."

The US reported a record 187,000 new cases of coronavirus and 2,015 deaths on Thursday, the most since May when the country faced major outbreaks before the holiday season began, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. During the peak of the second wave in the third week of July, an average of 863 people died per day. However, by the third week of November, cases are still on the rise, and an average of 1,335 people die on average per day, according to JHU data.

The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – the percentage of all Covid-positive people in America who eventually die from the coronavirus – worries health professionals. As of July 1, the CFR has been 1.4%, but if the CFR stays steady at the huge number of cases the country is seeing now, the US could be 2,500 deaths in the near future, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data per day.

"Overcrowding in hospitals leads to higher death rates," Jha said. "The terrible death toll we are seeing now will worsen significantly in the weeks and, unfortunately, in the months ahead."

The numbers are growing rapidly in Connecticut. 96% of the state's population is currently under a "red alert". This is the highest possible warning level in the state's color-coded Covid system. The state is seeing a six-month high in hospital stays in Covid and averaged 1,926 cases per day over the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, D, told host Shepard Smith that he was "feeling pretty good" about hospital capacity in his state, but that he was concerned about the well-being of health care workers at those hospitals .

"What worries me are nurses and doctors. I think this will be the bottleneck for us," said Lamont. "There I have to make sure we have enough support to deal with the stress."

When it comes to New York, Lamont said he disagrees with closing schools and keeping restaurants open, saying that "it's the wrong way to go". Covid among Connecticut school children is rising rapidly. This week, cases among K-12 students increased more than 70% from last week. Governor Lamont has struggled to keep schools open for personal learning, and he told Smith he wasn't going to reconsider.

"You're much more likely to be infected outside of the school hybrid, distance learning, or virtual learning than you are in the classroom," said Lamont. "Anything I do, I'll fight to make these kids have this classroom experience, but I'll take it week after week."

Lamont added that he was working to increase testing capacity in hour-long queues in his state. Jha emphasized the importance of the next two months in slowing down infections for future success.

"We can make a huge difference," said Jha. "We can make it easier to get the vaccine, we can save many lives, and we can prevent many hospitals from being overwhelmed."

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Katherine Clark