COVID-19 deaths are set to decline dramatically over the coming four weeks, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predictions.
Even as the agency’s director Dr Rochelle Walensky warns that the virus is set to surge on the heels of Spring Break and maskless revelling, the CDC’s latest forecasting suggests that between 3,200 and 10,100 Americans will die of COVID-19 during the week of April 4-10.
By comparison, 10,248 people died of coronavirus in the US over the past seven days, including 1,286 on Tuesday.
Cases are on a slow but steady decline as well, with 53,579 new infections recorded yesterday, driving the seven-day rolling average down to 54,875, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
It’s a drop from the previous Tuesday’s 58,589 – and each of eight Tuesdays before that.
These are encouraging signs, even as the CDC’s predictions suggest that the US COVID-19 death toll could rise as high as 574,000 by April 10. As of Wednesday morning, more than 536,000 Americans had died of coronavirus and more than 29.5 million people in the US had been infected.
About one quarter of Americans have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and nearly 12 percent are fully vaccinated, according to tracking from Bloomberg – rates that may be helping to drive down fatalities.
Despite all the good news, health officials and some political leaders remain on edge. CDC director Dr Rochelle Walenksy warned Monday of an oncoming surge as Spring Breakers party maskless and offer a chance for more infectious variants to spread across the US with them.
The latest CDC’s predictions suggest that the US COVID-19 death toll could rise as high as 574,000 by April 10, but that between 3,200 and 10,100 Americans will die of the infection during the week of April 4-10, a decrease from previous weeks, including the last seven days when 10,248 people died of coronavirus in the US
Spring Breakers have ‘forgotten there is a pandemic’, the mayor of Miami Beach has warned, telling of his concern at ‘too many people coming with a desire to go wild’.
Young people were flocking to the city of 90,000 people to party on the sand, in a state which has has few COVID restrictions.
And, while much of the country remained under some form of lockdown, Florida was welcoming the college-age revelers.
Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, said people were arriving with an ‘anything goes’ mentality.
Yet Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was singing his own praises for Florida’s relaxed approach to the pandemic and middling coronavirus numbers.
‘Everyone told me I was wrong,’ DeSantis, a Republican, said during a Tuesday fundraiser.
‘I faced continued pressure from radical Democrats and the liberal media, but I refused to back down. It’s clear: Florida got it right.’
So far, Florida has more COVID-19 cases per capita than the national average, but only by about three percent. Its deaths per capita fall in the middle of national rankings, at 24th.
The state has more cases of the 50-70 percent more infectious and 50 percent more deadly UK B117 variant of coronavirus than any other in the nation, at 738.
Cases are increasing in parts of the country. Michigan saw 50 percent more new infections in the past seven days compared to the prior week.
New infections have climbed by more than 10 percent in the past week in 13 other states:
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
But not in Florida.
Daily cases there continue to decline on average, as they have since mid-January. There were 4,179 new cases reported there on Tuesday, according data from Johns Hopkins University, compared to 6,297 a month prior.
The high prevalence of the variant, plus the influx of vacationers make it a public health officials nightmare, but so far their fears haven’t materialized.
Nonetheless, as South Florida county officials have begged Governor DeSantis to reinstate fines for flouting COVID-19 restrictions – which he cancelled – struggle to enforce social distancing among throngs of college students and others.
In Fort Lauderdale, where the film Spring Break was set, police were patrolling the beach but large crowds of carefree partygoers were still lapping up the sunshine, regardless of the pandemic.
Corey Falcon, of Baltimore, picks up two women on Fort Lauderdale Beach on Tuesday as Spring Break continues
College students descended on Fort Lauderdale to make the most of the warm weather and freedom from lockdown
Police in in the city ended up shooting pepper balls at the weekend to disperse a crowd that had gathered around officers who were making an arrest.
One of the officers body-slammed James Harrison, 19, from New York City, as he was being taken into custody, and the crowd became ‘extremely aggressive towards officers,’ according to a copy of the police report.
An officer fired pepper balls ‘due to the large, aggressive, unruly crowd and the immediate posing threats to officer safety,’ the police report said.
The Miami Beach Police Department made 163 arrests over the past seven days, spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told USA TODAY.
Gelber said the influx was ‘a triple threat’.
He said: ‘We’ve got too many people, too many coming with a desire to go wild, and we have the virus.
‘It really poses a multifaceted peril for us.’
Florida does not require people to wear face masks and there were none in sight on Tuesday amid the celebrations
Police in Fort Lauderdale were patrolling the beach but could not enforce mask wearing
On Tuesday night officers from Miami-Dade County and from neighboring Coral Gables were joining the Miami Beach Police on patrol.
A man was taken to hospital from the city’s bar district, having shot himself in the leg by accident, WSVN reported.
Gelber said the city was not equipped to handle so many people.
‘I think it might be a little bit related to just people looking to let loose after being pent up, but some people are coming here with sort of an anything-goes mentality and even if it’s just a small percentage – it’s a small percentage of an enormous amount of people,’ Gelber said.
The city has brought in ‘zero tolerance for all of our ordinances,’ which means Miami Beach Police are making arrests for having open containers.
But there are no fines or arrests for refusing to wear face masks.
‘I’ve been on Ocean Drive almost every day in the last week, and the number of people not wearing masks or just not bothering with any of the healthy practices is very disturbing,’ he said.
‘An enormous number of people are coming our way, and many of them, if not most, seem to have forgotten that there’s a pandemic.’
According to the Florida Department of Health, new cases in the county have hovered between 800 and 1,900 since the beginning of the month.
COVID Act Now, a nonprofit that analyzes COVID-19 data, categorizes the county as ‘very high risk’ – the fourth-highest tier on its five-tier scale.
‘We have seen footage of people enjoying spring break festivities, maskless. This is all in the context of still 50,000 cases per day.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr Rochelle Walensky said on Monday.
‘Cases climbed last spring, they climbed again in the summer, they will climb now if we stop taking precautions when we continue to get more and more people vaccinated.’
It’s also in the context of a dangerous coronavirus gaining ground in the US.
The B117 variant first found in the UK is now in 48 US states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.
A study published last week suggested it is not only more infectious, but up to 55 per cent deadlier.
CDC officials predicted it would reach dominance in the US in March.
About 30 per cent of the most recent batches of virus samples tested (as of March 15) were positive for the variant. That’s up from nine per cent of the samples sequenced on February 15.
Over the past five days to Tuesday, 6.4 million people flew across the US, breaking the pandemic travel record of 5.6 million people who boarded airplanes in the five days leading up to Christmas, according to Travel Security Administration (TSA) data.
That includes 1.2 million people who flew on Monday. On Friday, more than 1.3 million people flew – a record high in the past year.
Popular warm destinations like Miami Beach saw influxes of college students and others.
In preparation for their arrival, Governor Ron DeSantis dropped fines for people who flout COVID-19 safety measures.
It’s the latest push in his campaign to keep a tight grip on how cities and counties enforce – or rather don’t enforce – restrictions.
The group of South Florida counties inundated with visitors sent the governor a letter pleading with him to allow fines to be reinstated, but so far it appears that their law enforcement agencies are facing exactly the challenges they anticipated.