US COVID-19 death toll hits 80,684, Fauci to testify on COVID-19 response

May 12, 2020

The United States death toll due to COVID-19 has reached 80,684, according to Johns Hopkins tracker. At least 1,347,936 cases have been confirmed in the country. Global cases reported at 4,197,142.

The death toll has already surpassed the most optimistic epidemiologic model, the one produced by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and touted by the White House, which projected 64,000 deaths by Aug. 1. That model has since been adjusted to take into account the easing of social distancing measures, and now projects 137,000 US deaths by Aug. 1.

The US has the most reported deaths and cases of the novel coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China in December of 2019, in the world.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California are the hardest-hit states, but cases in the first three states are declining, and have remained mostly stagnant in recent days in Illinois and California.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined Robert Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Stephen Hahn, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, as the latest top coronavirus officials to voluntarily self-isolate after being exposed to White House personnel who have tested positive for the virus in recent days.

Fauci and Redfield will testify, via video, at a Senate hearing on the coronavirus response. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has mandated the hearing will take place remotely, as he is also self-quarantining after coming into contact with infected staffers.

The testimonies will be focused on how states should reopen economies after six-eight weeks of sheltering in place mandates, which are still in place in about two dozen states. Though the CDC recommended states wait until 14 days of sustained case declines, many states have opened with case counts increasing to stave off further economic disaster.

New York officially has 342,317 cases and 26,878 deaths from the novel coronavirus, in an outbreak that has accounted for much of the virus activity across the country. But according to a new study in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the death toll in that state, and explicitly in New York City, is likely an underestimate.

The CDC said 32,107 people died in New York City from March 11 to May 2 this year, representing an increase of 24,172 deaths over seasonal averages.

"Included in the 28,172 deaths were 13,831 (57%) laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 (21%) probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 (22%) excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths," the authors wrote.

The deaths may have been caused by untested COVID-19, or delays in accessing healthcare among non-COVID-19 patients who did not want to seek medical care during the pandemic, the authors said.

CIDRAP has the report.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.