Johns Hopkins: Dire analysis in CDC documents not meant for COVID-19 death forecasts

Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday said analysis included in leaked government documents that showed the U.S. could see up to 3,000 deaths per day from coronavirus was not meant to be used for official forecasts.

The university said researchers at its school of public health produced the study for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in planning for various scenarios as states begin loosening their restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.

“These preliminary results are not forecasts, and it is not accurate to present them as forecasts,” the school of public health said in a statement.

“The information illustrates that there are some scenarios, including the premature relaxation of social distancing, that are likely to cause significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States.”

The Johns Hopkins study was featured in documents from FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed the U.S. reaching 200,000 new cases daily by June 1, with a daily death toll of roughly 3,000. Both figures would be a substantial increase over current daily averages.

The White House on Monday stressed that the study was not reviewed by its coronavirus task force, and on Tuesday administration officials made a concerted effort to dispute the projections.

“Those projections are without mitigation. We’re doing a lot of mitigation,” President Trump said as he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Arizona.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany chided the press for its reporting on the data included in the government documents, saying “the media should be more responsible in its reporting and give the full set of information to the American public.”

“The Johns Hopkins’ study being pushed around by the media as factual is based on faulty assumptions and is in no way representative of any federal government projections and, as Johns Hopkins stated, should not be taken as a forecast,” she said in a statement.

Hours after the Johns Hopkins study was first reported, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, an influential model cited by government officials, recalibrated its projections on Monday afternoon to account for increasing mobility as restrictions are lifted. The model now projects nearly 135,000 deaths through the beginning of August, nearly double what it had been estimating as of Monday morning.

The two studies reflect the likelihood that the U.S. will see increasing case numbers and deaths from coronavirus as states begin gradually lifting restrictions and allowing certain businesses to reopen.

The U.S. has more than 1.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins, and roughly 70,000 people in the country have died from the virus.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Donald Trump John Hopkins University

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