“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”
The sobering numbers come as some states move to reopen despite warnings from federal health officials.
Fauci says the federal government needs to provide strategic guidance and assistance to help states up their number of conducted tests. He hopes he can guarantee everyone who needs a test can get one by the end of May or early June.
“The truth is that we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “But we need to continue to partner in a very active collaborative way with the states, we need to help them the same way they need to do the execution.”
Fauci, speaking alongside President Donald Trump at the White House, expressed optimism about the remdesivir trial, saying it showed the mortality rate trended “towards being better” among patients who took the drug.
The data showed remdesivir has a “clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said Wednesday.
The executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, Dr. Mike Ryan, said it’s too early to comment on the trial results.
How reopenings will affect virus numbers
In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp began lifting restrictions on small businesses such as salons and bowling alleys last week, experts say the death toll will likely see a sharp rise as a result.
“There are a couple of conditions that really need to be met before you can safely lift social distancing restrictions,” CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Celine Gounder said Tuesday.
Those factors include a 14-day decline of cases and deaths, a hospital capacity for expected patients and the ability to do contact tracing and testing, she said.
“Georgia doesn’t meet any of the criteria,” Gounder added.
Youyang Gu, the researcher behind one of the models shared by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, projects the number of daily deaths in the state will nearly double by early August.
The model assumes social distancing will relax slightly as the state continues to reopen. The number of deaths per day in Georgia will jump from 32 fatalities on May 1 to a projected 63 people dying each day by August 4, the model forecasts.
The researcher’s findings fall in line with what’s predicted by another model that’s often been cited by the White House.
Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said they’ve upped their August death toll for the US by about 7,000 since last week.
The change, Murray says, comes from both longer peaks experienced by states and signs that states are becoming more active again.
Some businesses in South Carolina, Alaska and Oklahoma reopened last week. Restaurants in Tennessee opened with restrictions this week while retails outlets will open at 50% capacity Wednesday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums, and libraries will be allowed to reopen Friday but must remain at 25% capacity.
Airlines will provide masks
Since officials have now recommended Americans wear face masks in public to prevent further spread, some airlines say they’ll provide the masks for passengers.
American Airlines and United Airlines both said they’ll be providing masks for passengers beginning in May.
“We are not mandating that passengers wear a mask however we strongly encourage travelers follow CDC guidance to wear a face covering when social distancing is difficult,” United Airlines spokesperson Nicole Carriere told CNN. “By providing the masks, we’re making it that much easier for them to do so.”
Meanwhile, in three major New York City area airports, terminal access will be restricted to ticketed passengers, airport employees and others who need to enter the airport for business, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Tuesday.
The measure will be enforced at John F. Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty Airport.
“Due to Covid-19 related shifts in flight and passenger activity, changes in the airports’ operational footprints, security, cleaning and maintenance protocols, and social distancing directives, the Port Authority will temporarily limit terminal access at the region’s three major airports,” the Port Authority said in a statement.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the description of Anthony Fauci’s medical expertise.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Jen Christensen, Amanda Watts, Andy Rose, Rob Frehse and Pete Muntean contributed to this report.
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