President Trump this week pointed to Easter Sunday as a “beautiful” target date for the United States to get back to business, with “packed churches all over our country.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci was a bit more realistic about it.
“You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline,” he said on CNN Wednesday night. “If you keep seeing this acceleration, it doesn’t matter what you say. One week, two weeks, three weeks — you’ve got to go with what the situation on the ground is.”
If the coronavirus does, in fact, make the timeline, and if this interactive chart from the New York Times has it right, the target date should be stretched well beyond April 12.
The Times, with input from epidemiologists, used this visual to show what a quick return to normal could mean in terms of infections — 128 million cases — versus what we could see if we continue social-distancing measures for two months — 14 million cases.
“These numbers offer a false precision, for we don’t understand Covid-19 well enough to model it exactly,” the Times wrote. “But they do suggest the point that epidemiologists are making: For all the yearning for a return to normalcy, that is risky so long as a virus is raging and we are unprotected.
On epidemiologist quoted in the story, Larry Brilliant of the Ending Pandemics organization, warned that Trump’s Easter timeline could have disastrous implications.
“I think history would judge it an error of epic proportions,” he said.
The number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 Wednesday night, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York City and state remains the hardest hit region of the country with about 30,000 cases and 300 fatalities. The latest tally shows that the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose another 14,000 to more than 69,000.
Meanwhile, the latest stat from the jobs front clearly shows the huge impact coronavirus is having on the U.S. economy. The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week rocketed to a record 3.28 million as large parts of the U.S. economy shut down and companies laid off scores of workers to deal with the pandemic.
The stock market, however, has been on the mend this week, with another day of gains taking shape on Thursday. At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +4.29% was up more than 800 points while both the S&P 500 index SPX, +3.72% and tech-heavy Nasdaq COMP, +3.16% were firmly higher, as well.