This follow-up to my March 12 coronavirus piece comes with the same important caveats, important enough that I’m stating them up front: I’m not here to alarm anyone, and I am not here to scoff. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know what our experts are saying, and this is me reporting what the experts are saying.
Andrew Slavitt, Barack Obama’s former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is quoting experts who say more than one million Americans are already doomed because the “virus was not contained.”
“Currently experts expect over 1 million deaths in the U.S. since the virus was not contained & we cannot even test for it,” Slavitt tweeted Thursday. “The original sin is Trump’s months long denial and his dismantling of public health and response infrastructure.”
Let’s be very clear about what Slavitt is saying…
AT THE VERY LEAST, ONE MILLION AMERICANS WILL DIE NO MATTER WHAT WE DO NEXT
In no uncertain terms, using these experts, Slavitt is saying that it is already too late to save a million Americans, and that more than one million Americans will be dead in the next 12 to 18 months.
He is saying that no matter what we do to contain and mitigate, no matter what we do going forward, it is fait accompli that more than one million Americans will die and that this is all President Trump’s fault.
Let’s be just as clear about who Slavitt is…
He is not some crank on Twitter. He is not some paranoid in a desert mobile home screaming from ham radio. Slavitt was appointed by the president of the United States to run CMS, and he did so for nearly two years.
Again, as I did in a previous piece laying out these terrifying estimates from America’s experts — the experts driving media coverage and by extension the government and corporate response that effectively shut down our economy last week — I want to make clear that I’m only here to report.
Slavitt also quoted experts who said that American hospitals will be overrun by March 23.
“By March 23 many of our largest cities & hospitals are on course to be overrun with cases,” he wrote.
SLAVITT’S SOURCE IS EVEN MORE DIRE
Slavitt is quoting a report (I noted in that earlier piece) that came from an “expert panel” (those are not scare quotes, that’s what the panel is called) that released a report highlighting the following… [emphasis is original]:
- At this point, we are past containment. Containment is basically futile. Our containment efforts won’t reduce the number who get infected in the US.
- 40-70% of the US population will be infected over the next 12-18 months. After that level you can start to get herd immunity. Unlike flu this is entirely novel to humans, so there is no latent immunity in the global population.
- [We used their numbers to work out a guesstimate of deaths— indicating about 1.5 million Americans may die. The panelists did not disagree with our estimate. This compares to seasonal flu’s average of 50K Americans per year. Assume 50% of US population, that’s 160M people infected. With 1% mortality rate that’s 1.6M Americans die over the next 12-18 months.]
Again, I want to be precise and clear… The report amplified by Slavitt declaratively says — and I am quoting here: “Our containment efforts won’t reduce the number who get infected in the US … 40-70% of the US population will be infected over the next 12-18 months. … [T]hat’s 160M people infected. With 1% mortality rate that’s 1.6M Americans die over the next 12-18 months.”
In other words, we are already past the point of no return and 1.6 million Americans are simply going to die — nothing we do now will stop 1.6 million Americans from dying.
That is the best case scenario, not the worst case scenario.
THE MATH AVERAGES OUT TO 3,333 AMERICAN DEATHS PER DAY
As I did with my previous piece, I want to respect these numbers, but at the same time, I want to — within the world of these numbers — be as reasonable as possible. Slavitt says the best case scenario is “over one million” dead in the next 12 to 18 months. The report says the best case scenario is 1.6 million over the next 12 to 18 months. So I am going to do the math using 1.2 million over the next 14 months.
Viruses ravage a population through exponential increases — which means more and more deaths over time. There is no way for me to predict that number and it would be irresponsible of me to try. So, in order to help us wrap our minds around that number, I’m going to break the math down into a daily average.
Give or take a day or three, fourteen months is 420 days. That means 1.4 million deaths works out to an average of 3,333 deaths per day.
To make that number clearer, between now and June of next year, according to these experts, an average of 3,333 Americans will have died every day.
Again, I am not here to alarm anyone, and I am not here to scoff… But context is important, so here is some context…
Worldwide, since this outbreak began about three months ago, there have been (as of this writing), 160,000 reported cases and 6,000 deaths.
In the United States, since the CDC began tracking these numbers in mid-January, there have been 1,629 reported cases and 41 deaths.
Now go wash your hands….