By Travis Fedschun | Fox News
As millions of Americans urged to limit their activities amid the coronavirus outbreak are wondering when life may return to normal, a scientific report released Monday offers a grim scenario of how many could end up dead if no actions are made to limit the spread of the virus.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that, at this moment in time, the U.S. is “at a critical inflection point in this country” in regards to COVID-19 infections.
“People, we are where Italy was two weeks ago in terms of our numbers,” Adams said. “And we have a choice to make as a nation. Do we want to go the direction of South Korea, and really be aggressive and lower our mortality rates or do we want to go the direction of Italy.”
In three weeks, Italy went from some 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus to more than 27,000, including a death toll that has topped 2,150 as of Tuesday.
“When you look at the projections, there’s every chance that we could be Italy, but there’s every hope that we will be South Korea if people actually listen, people actually social distance, people do the basic public health measures that we’ve all been talking about as doctors all along, such as washing your hands, such as covering your cough, and cleaning your surfaces,” Adams told “Fox & Friends.”
Walter Ricciardi, a member of the World Health Organization and a consultant for the Italian health ministry, said last week that life could return to “normal” by the summer, comparing COVID-19 pandemic to the SARS outbreak in 2003 that ended in May or June.
“I have the impression that, if we are lucky and all work together, we should get through to the summer,” he said. “That’s when we should be able to return to normal life.”
Health experts have echoed the need for people to take precautions to help “flatten the curve” in order to provide appropriate medical care for patients. (Fox News)
The U.S. has seen a steady rise in infections since the outbreak began, with at least 4,661 confirmed cases and 85 deaths as of Tuesday morning.
A report released on Monday by an epidemic modeling group at Imperial College London paints a stark picture on how the numbers of infected could grow in the U.S. and the U.K. if efforts are not made to slow the spread of the virus.
If no control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior are undertaken, authors noted that a peak in daily deaths could occur in about three months, somewhere around June 20 in the U.S. In an unmitigated epidemic, scientists predict around 2.2 million deaths in the U.S., which doesn’t account for the effects of health systems being overwhelmed in regards to mortality.
Critical care bed capacity at hospitals would also be exceeded as early as the second week of April in an uncontrolled epidemic, with “an eventual peak in ICU or critical care bed demand that is over 30 times greater than the maximum supply in both countries.”
Dr. Marc Siegel answers questions from ‘Fox & Friends’ viewers.
“The epidemic is predicted to be broader in the U.S. than in GB (Great Britain) and to peak slightly later,” the study’s authors wrote, noting that the larger size of the U.S. will result in more “distinct localized epidemics” across states.
“The global impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the public health threat it represents is the most serious seen in a respiratory virus since the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic,” the report’s authors noted.
In the report, the group of 30 scientists noted that there were two fundamental strategies that were possible to combat the virus.
Mitigation, which would focus on slowing by not necessarily stopping the epidemic spread, would reduce peak health care demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection. The other strategy — suppression — aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation “indefinitely.”
“Each policy has major challenges,” the study’s authors noted.
An optimal mitigation policy noted in the study that combines home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease may help to reduce peak health care demand by two-thirds and deaths by a half.
President Trump announced on Monday a set of guidelines that he said Americans should follow to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, including that large swaths of the population isolate themselves and everyone avoid social gatherings or groups of more than 10 people.
Insight from Dr. Dena Grayson, infectious disease expert.
Health experts have echoed the need for people to take precautions to help “flatten the curve” in order to provide appropriate medical care for patients.
“It’s really important that we keep talking about flattening the curve,” infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson told “Fox and Friends First.” “The whole concept here is that we want to try to limit the spread of infection so that we don’t have this huge surge of patients suddenly rushing to the hospital and overwhelming our hospital system because we only have a limited number of hospital beds, of ICU beds, and of ventilators.”
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel also stressed the need for social distancing, which includes sitting six feet away from each other, washing one’s hands, and using disinfectants.
“It has to do with how contagious a virus is, and this virus is highly contagious, meaning for every person that has it: Two or two and a half more people get it,” Siegal said on “Fox & Friends. “
“So if you’re at a bar, drinking with your buddies — which everybody is still doing, unfortunately, it’s a free-for-all,” he added. “It’s going to spread from one person there to two more.”Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed