Fact check: Has coronavirus peaked?
Trump said the US has passed the peak in new cases; we’re now ready to start “life again” in a “safe and structured and very responsible fashion,” he said.
Is he right? Maybe.
The US is now firmly entrenched at the center of the global coronavirus outbreak, with more than 600,000 people confirmed as being infected by Covid-19 and more than 30,000 losing their lives due to the virus.
There are hopes that the US is starting to hit a peak in terms of new infections, followed by a long plateau and then drop, which will open the way to a gradual restart of normal life such as the opening of schools and businesses.
Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious diseases expert, has expressed “cautious optimism” that hospitalizations from the virus have started to slow down, although the rise in deaths will lag behind. “Once you turn that corner, hopefully we’ll see a very sharp decline,” Fauci said. On 13 April Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC that “we are nearing the peak right now.”
A model relied upon by the White House, from the University of Washington, estimates that the virus will “peter out” in May and then essentially grind to a halt by the summer. This is based on the experiences of China and Italy, previous coronavirus hotspots.
But this model, like all predictions, is dynamic and depends upon the application of measures such as social distancing to slow the rate of transmission. Other forecasts have been more pessimistic, warning that it will be difficult to tame the spread of the virus until well after summer. Premature relaxation of restrictions on gatherings of people could see a second, much more severe, increase in infections.
The sheer size of the US, as well as its large population, means that there will be several ‘peaks’ at different times across the country. While the situation may be starting to stabilize somewhat in New York, areas in the heart of the country have yet to see the worst of the virus.”That is going to be confusing for people,” said Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota. “If wow, New York had all these deaths and they are opening up, why aren’t we opening? That will be a communication challenge for us, but we have to just keep monitoring and see where we are going on this.”