US on track towards more deaths as states continue to ease coronavirus restrictions, researcher warns

CNN – Nearly every state in the US is moving toward reopening from pandemic closures, but a leading researcher warns that doing so puts the country on an "unfortunate trajectory" to more coronavirus deaths.

At least 48 states will be partially reopened by Sunday in the midst of a pandemic that has infected more than 1,300,000 people and killed 82,387, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. An influential model cited often by the White House now predicts that 147,000 people in the nation will die from the virus by August, the researcher behind the model Dr. Chris Murray told CNN's Don Lemon Tuesday. It's an increase of 10,000 deaths from two days earlier and double what was projected two weeks ago.

"We originally had thought that people would go the distance, keep social distance in place right until the end of May," Murray said. "But what's happened is states have relaxed early."

And the public is following their government's lead, he said. He sees more people gathering in groups, increasing the mingling that brings new cases, Murray said.

In Santa Clara County, California, authorities are receiving 300 to 400 violations of the state's stay at home order per day, the county's District Attorney Angela Alvarado told Lemon on CNN Tonight Tuesday. And ICU beds are still 71% or more occupied in six states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And as Murray's team predicts a worsening situation, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the number of coronavirus deaths already in the US is likely higher than recorded. Challenges to the healthcare system might have resulted in people dying of the virus before getting to a hospital, he said before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

States turn to contact tracing

States are turning their focus toward contact tracing as weapons in the battle against coronavirus.

New Orleans is taking the unusual step of requiring restaurants with open dining rooms to take reservations with a name and a phone number and keep them for at least 21 days so they can track down people if a case arises.

"Contract tracing comes with the responsibility of all of us," Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a news conference. "General public, know where you're going, take ... notes (to) remind yourself of where you've been," she said.

She said she doesn't know how many will be in Orleans Parish yet, but the state is hiring contact tracers -- which several governors said Tuesday they are doing as well.

The state of New Jersey is planning to develop a community contact tracing core that could employ 1,000 to 5,000 people, state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said in a news conference. The job could pay up to $25 dollars an hour, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced an online tool for contact tracing officials are calling the "Healthy Georgia Collaborative." The tool will help in allowing "Georgians to identify contacts and monitor symptoms."

Kemp said there are "nearly 250 staff in the field today," and that the Department of Public Health "plans to have 1,000 staff deployed in the weeks ahead."

In Washington state, hundreds of members of the National Guard will be used as part of an interim contact tracing group until more workers and volunteers are trained. They will not have law enforcement power but "simply will be talking to people and helping prevent others from getting sick," Gov. Jay Inslee said.

California and its schools prepare for the long haul

While restrictions will continue to be loosened and lifted, Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday that Los Angeles County should expect to remain under some form of a stay at home order for at least another three months.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents not to "freak out" at the thought of months of more precautions and said that the city will be following the data available.

But schools across the state are making decisions for the

The California State University system has announced plans to cancel nearly all in-person classes for the fall semester in favor of virtual learning, and the University of California System says it likely won't fully reopen in the fall either.

"It's not an easy decision," Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt professor of infectious diseases told CNN's Chris Cuomo of schools considering fall semester plans. "As with all of these things, I say there is not a right decision nor wrong decision, only tough decisions."

Though Garcetti hopes the city can find a safe way to send K-12 students back to school in the fall, he said they should also prepare to pick back up with online classes.

CDC to put out guidance over mysterious child illness

The CDC is preparing to alert thousands of physicians and clinicians across the country of a dangerous inflammatory syndrome in children that may be linked to the coronavirus infection, a CDC spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

"We will provide a working case definition of what cases look like. They'll be asked to report cases to state and local health department so we can try to learn about as much about this syndrome as we can," the spokesman said.

The syndrome is marked by persistent fever, inflammation, poor function in one or more organs, and other symptoms similar to shock. An informal panel of pediatricians organized by Boston Children's Hospital named the condition "pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with Covid-19."

New York health officials are now investigating about 100 cases of the illness that is similar to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

New York has said many of its patients treated for the pediatric inflammatory syndrome tested positive for Covid-19 or had its antibodies, though they did not present with typical coronavirus symptoms.

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