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Monday, 11 May 2020

US death toll could increase to 137,000 by August as social distancing measures are relaxed in majority of states - with California's fatalities predicted to more than DOUBLE to 6,000, forecast model warns

A top coronavirus model has increased the projected American death toll to 137,000 by August due to social distancing measures being relaxed in the majority of states with California's fatalities forecast to more than double in that time. 
The influential model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting a slight increase in expected COVID-19 deaths as a result of increased mobility across the country. 
The projected death toll has increased by 2,700 since the model's projections were updated this week.
The slight increase comes as some states continue to ease social distancing measures and people start moving more following weeks of lockdowns. 
Currently, more than 80,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and there are over 1.3 million infections across the country. 
The director of the institute that created the White House-endorsed coronavirus model says the moves by states to re-open businesses 'will translate into more cases and deaths in 10 days from now'.
Dr Christopher Murray said states where cases and deaths are going up more than expected include California, Illinois, Arizona and Florida.   
The influential model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting 137,000 deaths by August due to social distancing measures being relaxed in the majority of states
The influential model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting 137,000 deaths by August due to social distancing measures being relaxed in the majority of states
Currently, more than 80,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and there are over 1.3 million infections across the country
Currently, more than 80,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and there are over 1.3 million infections across the country
In California, deaths are projected to double by August to 6,000, according to the IHME model. It is an increase of 1,420 on its projections at the start of last week.    
Another 88 deaths were recorded in California over the weekend, bringing the death toll in the state to 2,718. The total number of infections has now reached more than 67,800.     
Despite the figures, Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, the county with 40 percent of the new cases, was packed with sun bathers on Sunday. 
'Some good-ish news coming out of New York and New Jersey and Michigan, where the death cases and death numbers are coming down faster than expected,' Murray told CBS on Sunday.
'Some other states where cases and deaths are going up more than we expected - Illinois and then Arizona, Florida, California as examples of that.'  
Researchers said the increased numbers in these states were the result of 'a combination of updated daily death and case data, recent actions to ease previously implemented social distancing measures, and steadily rising levels of mobility in many places'. 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Illinois are projected to have the five highest COVID-19 death tolls through August, the model forecasts. 
Fewer deaths, however, are now expected in hard-hit New York and New Jersey.
New York, which currently has 21,000 deaths, is projected to have more than 31,000 deaths by August, according to the model. 
In New Jersey, the model predicts more than 14,000 deaths by August. The state currently has more than 9,200 deaths.  
Another 88 deaths were recorded in California over the weekend, bringing the death toll in the state to 2,718. The total number of infections has now reached more than 67,800
Another 88 deaths were recorded in California over the weekend, bringing the death toll in the state to 2,718. The total number of infections has now reached more than 67,800 

The model's latest findings show that, over the last few weeks, five states - Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Georgia - have seen at least a 20 percent increase in mobility patterns. 
Thirteen states have experienced between a 15 and 20 percent increase: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
'While at least some of these patterns may be related to formal easing of social distancing policies, this upward trend in movement began in several places long before state-level mandates were relaxed,' Murray said. 
'Unless and until we see accelerated testing, contact tracing, isolating people who test positive, and widespread use of masks in public, there is a significant likelihood of new infections.' 
California was among the first to go into lockdown with some of the strictest measures in the country and has now begun to open back up. 
However, it should be noted that its easing of restrictions only began on Friday - too soon to have been picked up in the findings of the researchers.
'The virus has not changed,' LA county health director Barbara Ferrer told the Los Angeles Times
'It can still spread easily, and it can still result in serious illness and death.' 
Some businesses have been able to reopen such as clothing, sporting goods, florists and other retailer stores for curbside pickup.
Governor Gavin Newsom said last week: 'We are entering into the next phase this week. End of the week, with modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum.
'This is a very positive sign and it has only happened for one reason: the data says it can happen.'   
Public health officials urged caution despite some recreation facilities and businesses starting to re-open. Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, which has 40 percent of the new cases, was packed with sun bathers on Sunday
Public health officials urged caution despite some recreation facilities and businesses starting to re-open. Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, which has 40 percent of the new cases, was packed with sun bathers on Sunday
People relax at Echo Park Lake during the coronavirus pandemic on May 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California
People relax at Echo Park Lake during the coronavirus pandemic on May 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California
California was among the first to go into lockdown with some of the strictest measures in the country and has now begun to open back up (pictured: Echo Park Lake)
California was among the first to go into lockdown with some of the strictest measures in the country and has now begun to open back up (pictured: Echo Park Lake)
A pair stroll through the park on Sunday during the coronavirus pandemic as the lockdown as eased in California
A pair stroll through the park on Sunday during the coronavirus pandemic as the lockdown as eased in California
People relax at Echo Park Lake during the coronavirus pandemic on May 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 283,000 lives and infecting more than 4.1 million people.
People relax at Echo Park Lake during the coronavirus pandemic on May 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 283,000 lives and infecting more than 4.1 million people.
Governor Gavin Newsom said last week: 'We are entering into the next phase this week. End of the week, with modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum'
Governor Gavin Newsom said last week: 'We are entering into the next phase this week. End of the week, with modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum'
It is still recommended that those with underlying medical conditions and those ages 65 and older do not participate in any interactions however.
There's still an indefinite stay-at-home order and gatherings in a single location are prohibited. 
Dining in at restaurants is still prohibited and only takeout is available. Nonessential businesses must still run only a minimal operation or work remotely. Offices are to remain closed. 
Newsom said that different counties would require different measures based on the localized extent of the contagion. 
Long Beach is set to reopen its beach bike and pedestrian parks, tennis courts and parking lots for public parks on Monday. Although beaches and beach parking lots will stay shut. Gatherings and picnics are still banned and those who use the recreational areas will need to stay six feet apart.  
It comes as officials in Los Angeles County traced a local COVID-19 outbreak to a birthday party which took place after the lockdown order was issued.  
The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) said that a disease investigation team discovered more than five laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases and many more ill individuals who were linked to the gathering in the Los Angeles County area. 
PPHD said the celebration was attended by a large number of extended family members and friends and the first person identified with the disease, was coughing and not wearing a face covering at the event.
The PPHD said in the announcement on Saturday that guests were also not wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing.  

The PPHD did not state what date the party occurred but California's shutdown began mid-March. 
In a warning to families in time for the Mother's Day holiday, they advised loved ones not to break social distancing rules by getting together from different households.
The PPHD said that as a result of the close contact, COVID-19 spread among attendees.
But they also used the outbreak as an example of how contact tracing done well can help clamp down on the deadly disease.
'This is an example of how good contact tracing can identify disease clusters and tell us more about the spread of disease in our community,' PPHD epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Feaster said. 
'We're grateful to our large team of public health nurses, case investigators, and contact tracers who help track the virus and prevent the disease from spreading to other members of our community.'  
'Pasadena residents who stay home keep themselves and their loved ones protected from COVID-19,' said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, director and health officer of PPHD. 'Although we are moving forward with small modifications to the Safer at Home Order, gatherings of people who do not live in the same household are still prohibited.
'The virus remains highly contagious. Social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing face coverings remain our best defenses against the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.' 

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