During the early days of the pandemic, the public’s attention was fixed on various models, each showing a steep upswing, with cases steadily increasing each day, followed by the tail-end of the curve as cases fade away.
Americans saw, with increasing dread, the predicted upswing in the national numbers. Then, over the last couple of weeks, it stopped.
And yet, forecasters are projecting even more deaths on the horizon. A leaked document obtained by The New York Times projected more than 3,000 people could die each day by the end of May. Another historically conservative model, favored by the Trump administration, just doubled its projected death toll, too.
The tail-end of the national epidemic is not materializing.
“If you just look at the total number of cases, you’re going to miss what’s underneath it,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It’s not a leveling-off. It’s a painful handoff.”
America’s current “plateau” isn’t good news, he said. Infections from the earliest-hit metropolitan areas are now spawning outbreaks of their own across the country.