WASHINGTON – American health officials and epidemic experts across the world have estimated that, in the worst case scenario, the coronavirus could kill as many as 1.7 million people in the United States, if the outbreak persisted for months or even more than a year.
The projection was made by officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their data was reviewed by about 50 expert teams to see how the virus might impact the United States and what could stop it.
The outcome of the data, published by The New York Times on Sunday, showed that between 160 million and 214 million people in the US could be infected over the course of the China-generated pandemic.
The experts said the worst case scenario was that the contagion could last months or even over a year, and as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.
The calculations based on the CDC’s data suggested that 2.4 million to 21 million people in the United States could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds, according to the American daily.
The coronavirus, a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year and is currently affecting 149 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far infected over 147,000 people and killed more than 5,500 others.
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
As for the United States, 3,043 people have so far been tested positive for the coronavirus across the country and 60 people have died, according to worldometers.info.
US health experts have criticized the administration of US President Donald Trump for downplaying the epidemic and lagging behind in testing efforts, making it difficult to gauge the full scale of outbreaks in the United States and curtail transmission of the virus.
‘6 in 10 Americans say worst is yet to come in virus outbreak’
Meanwhile, an opinion poll released on Sunday showed that 60 percent of Americans believed the worst is yet to come in the coronavirus pandemic, while 31 percent said the flu-like virus is not likely to be a major problem.
The poll, released by the NBC News/Wall Street Journal, also found that 79 percent of Democrats said the worst is still ahead, whereas 40 percent of Republicans had the same opinion.
“What’s clear is that we are at the beginning of the story of coronavirus in America, and Americans are beginning to understand what its impact could be,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his firm, Public Opinion Strategies.
McInturff added that the coronavirus has so far affected some states and cities more disproportionately than other parts of the country.
“It’s a very big country with a lot of different people,” he said.
The poll was conducted among 900 registered voters from March 11 to 13, with a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.
Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the fast-spreading coronavirus, freeing up additional resources and federal funding of about $50 billion to fight the disease.
Trump made the announcement at a news conference at the White House, saying he was declaring the national emergency in order to “unleash the full power of the federal government.”
He called on all US states to establish emergency centers to help fight the deadly virus.
The US president has also imposed restrictions on travelers from China, Iran, the European Union’s Schengen Area as well as the UK and Ireland.
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