When you do what you’ve done, you get what you got.
The regional variation of the American outbreak is crucial to understanding both what happened and what’s going to happen next. Nationwide, the U.S. deaths per million tally—a hair under 400—is in the top ten globally. But look just at the Northeast’s 56 million people, and the death rate is more than double the national average: 1,100 deaths per million.
By contrast, the South and West—where SARS-CoV-2 is burning through the population—are much more populous than the Northeast. If those areas continue to see cases grow, they could see as many deaths per million as the Northeast did but multiplied by a larger number of people. At 1,100 deaths per million, the South and West would see 180,000 more deaths. Even at half the Northeast’s number, that’s another 69,000 Americans.
Note that the above numbers are not the worst case scenario. If the South and West hit something like New York, it would kill around 550,000 Americans.
But it could get worse still:
For months, most public-health officials have argued that the infection-fatality rate—the number of people who die from all infections, detected and undetected, symptomatic and asymptomatic—was somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent. The CDC’s latest estimates in its planning scenarios range from 0.5 to 0.8 percent. Take that lower number and imagine that roughly 40 percent of the country becomes infected. That’s 800,000 lives lost.
That’s the low end of the CDC estimate. It is mind-boggling that people are arguing against masks and are serious considering re-opening schools.