NY Times Model Predicts Tens of Millions More Coronavirus Infections If Trump’s Easter Deadline Met
The New York Times has published an epidemiological model that predicts up to 61 million additional coronavirus infections and an excess 600,000 deaths if President Donald Trump’s Easter deadline for reopening the country is met.
In a piece entitled “Trump Wants to ‘Reopen America.’ Here’s What Happens if We Do,” NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof and opinion editor Stuart Thompson teamed with epidemiologists to create an interactive model that predicts the effects of various durations of social distancing measures.
Here’s what the model says could happen if social distancing measures are ended on Easter Sunday, which is the target 17 days from now that Trump has set to reopen the country because he “just thought it was a beautiful time”:
Using the length of time you chose, the model suggests that 74.9 million people could contract the coronavirus across the United States between January and late October (with 17.1 million at the peak on June 29). More than 717,600 people would die under these conditions and 72.7 million people would recover. Tweak the settings, and these numbers will change.
Under a two-month period of social distancing instead which experts prefer, the model predicts 13.9 million infections and 82,300 deaths.
But the piece stresses that “These numbers offer a false precision, for we don’t understand Covid-19 well enough to model it exactly. But they do suggest the point that epidemiologists are making: For all the yearning for a return to normalcy, that is risky so long as a virus is raging and we are unprotected.”
The model’s methodology similarly cautions that, “this is a model, not the real world; epidemiologists say that in reality the virus without controls would take longer to spread, partly because of growing immunity and partly because people would become much more careful.”
The alarming graph that headlines the piece — which shows 114 million additional infections with a 14-day social distancing period — has been circulating heavily on social media along with the article, illustrating the potential stakes of the decisions that are being made.
Trump has said that he will evaluate the deadline with the advice of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.
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