The COVID-19 death toll continues to mount, with John Hopkins University reporting over 26,000 American fatalities as of Wednesday morning.
Yet despite the grim news, one of the experts behind the widely-cited University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model says that “the worst is behind us as a country.”
Over the hill
That declaration came from Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor and epidemiologist at the University of Washington. During an appearance with Fox News personality Bill Hemmer, Mokad predicted that COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could all but disappear by the summer.
“As I said before, many states are seeing a decline. Some states were delayed [implementing] social distancing measures. We see a peak later and that will come down later,” Mokdad told Hemmer.
“What we are seeing right now is a country … really making progress and people, Americans, have stayed at home and have helped us really contain this pandemic.”
Hemmer put up a graph showing the number of fatalities in the U.S. and then noted that Mokdad has said the model predicts that there will be no additional coronavirus deaths after June 27.
“The model is still tracking very well [in terms of] the mortality in the U.S. And actually… you’re showing an average,” Mokdad explained. “For some states… that’ll be much earlier.”
“Certain states are ready to consider returning to business much faster than others,” he continued. “As long as we are able to make sure we have in place the testing and the capacity to trace all the cases and the contacts.”
Other experts disagree
However, not everyone agrees with Mokdad’s assessment. Bill Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told CNN, “Unfortunately, there is no way that amount of control could happen by the summer.”
“Even in the best scenario, we assume there will be flare-ups, and we will have to remain extremely vigilant,” the epidemiologist went on to add.
For his part, top White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that he feels that hopes the country could be open again by the start of next month are “a bit overly optimistic.”
“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said during an Associated Press interview on Tuesday.