On Monday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Louisiana pointed to signs that the coronavirus outbreak may be starting to level off in their states. However, the governors still warned against complacency as the nationwide death toll from the coronavirus sat at just below 11,000 as of reporting time.
While the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continued to grow, the governors cited data that suggests that the rates of growth and hospitalizations were slowing. This possibly signals that the peak was at hand at the three states considered to be the epicenters of the outbreak.
According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, statewide deaths from the coronavirus outbreak were up 599 from Sunday. This was on par with an increase of 594 during the previous 24 hours and 630 Friday.
The overall tally of confirmed cases in the state grew by 7 percent from the previous day. However, Cuomo stated that hospitalization, admissions to intensive care units, and the number of patients on ventilator machines had all declined.
“While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen,” explained Cuomo during a daily briefing. “If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a high level.”
Despite the possible plateauing of the virus, Cuomo extended an order to keep non-essential businesses and schools closed for another two weeks. “This virus has kicked our rear end,” Cuomo said. “Now is not the time to slack off from what we are doing.”
Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, the state with the second-highest number of cases and deaths, Governor Phil Murphy said that they had a 12 percent day-to-day growth rate in coronavirus cases on Monday. This is half the rate from March 30.
“Our efforts to flatten the curve are starting to pay off,” stated Murphy. However, the governor warned that relaxing social distancing rules would trigger a new wave of infections that could end up overwhelming the state’s healthcare system.
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards also expressed cautious optimism about the efforts to slow down the outbreak in his state, which is also one of the hardest hit. In a recent news conference, Edwards confirmed that “new hospital admissions are trending downward.”
However, as with the other governors, Edwards emphasized that the plateauing would only continue if they kept up their social distancing efforts. “But this will only become a trend if we keep mitigation efforts up,” he stated. (Related: White House to finally recommend everyone wear a mask.)
In addition to these states, the number of new cases seems to be easing up in Connecticut. Here, Governor Ned Lamont stated that their healthcare system “is bending but not breaking.”
The cautiously optimistic news isn’t just coming from the governors. A new research model from the University of Washington lowers the expected number of deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. to 81,766 by August 4, down by about 12,000 from previous projections.
In response to the tentative signs of progress, U.S. stocks went up sharply, with all major indexes closing at least 7 percent higher on Monday. With the bounce, the broad-based S&P 500 remained is now down only 21 percent from its February 19 peak, compared with its March low where it was 30 percent off.
Despite the seemingly good news from the University of Washington report, people shouldn’t go out on the streets just yet. Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has cautioned that the most recent data on the coronavirus’ spread was not as accurate as experts would like it to be. She pointed to at least one county in the New York area that had seen a noticeable surge in cases over the weekend.
Despite the outbreak seemingly starting to level off in New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana, officials are still expecting more deaths this week. One official even stated that this weak was going to be “peak death week.”
“It’s going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and unfortunately, peak death week,” Admiral Brett Giroir, a physician serving on the White House coronavirus task force, warned on Good Morning America on Monday.
Even before this, political leaders and medical professionals have already raised alarms for weeks over crippling scarcities of protective gear, ventilators and other supplies.
In addition to this, some cities are also facing a shortage of healthcare workers. In New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio stated that the city needed 45,000 more clinical personally to get through April.
“We need these supplies, but we also need heroes to wear them,” de Blasio said.