The number of deaths in the U.S. from the Coronavirus dropped to its lowest level last week since the start of April, as health experts say a continued decline in cases from New York - and no new major outbreaks in other urban areas - has slowed the spread of the virus.
"In most states the number of cases are either declining or flat," said Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, as he said the data shows 'evidence of an epidemic that slowed dramatically.'
The death toll remains substantial. There were 9,260 reported deaths in the U.S. last week, well off the high of nearly 15,000 in the final full week of April.
But even with the slowing number of deaths, federal health officials expect the U.S. will reach 100,000 deaths by the end of this month.
#COVID19 United States reports ~21K new cases and ~850 new deaths today with a continuing downward trend— Andy Biotech (@AndyBiotech) May 18, 2020
Importantly, daily testing # reaches a new record high of ~422K (~3M weekly run rate) with positivity rate decline to 5%
h/t @PeterJ_Walker pic.twitter.com/YAPrX467mj
CDC tracks 12 different forecasting models of possible #COVID19 deaths in the US. As of May 11, all forecast an increase in deaths in the coming weeks and a cumulative total exceeding 100,000 by June 1. See national & state forecasts: https://t.co/PI1AtLCCmt pic.twitter.com/iylBnom5U0— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) May 15, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control reported in recent days that visits to doctors and emergency rooms which are likely related to the Coronavirus are also declining, 'likely in part a result of widespread efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.'
But while those numbers are declining, medical experts are also wondering what might be next, especially as businesses re-open, and states relax their virus restrictions.
"This is an interesting question with no straightforward answer," wrote Dr. Bertha Hidalgo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health.
"In some cases, states are reopening where we are starting to see a decrease in rates of infection. In other cases, states are reopening and case and death counts continue to increase," Hidalgo said.
One of the states seeing higher case numbers in recent days was Texas, but it's too early to tell whether that is just a function of more people being tested, or if there is an actual surge of new cases.
Also, an update to a previous figure below. In just 3(ish) months, deaths from covid19 in the US far exceed deaths from any flu season at least back to the 2010-2011 season. And certainly more than deaths from the especially bad 2017-2018 flu season. 11/n pic.twitter.com/my0vuj0n5P— jennifer weuve (@EpiDancer) May 17, 2020
On Saturday, Texas had its highest day of new virus cases yet, at 1,801 - but about one-third of those came from a meatpacking plant outbreak in Amarillo.