Home Journals Deaths likely to increase as states loosen COVID-19 restrictions | News

Deaths likely to increase as states loosen COVID-19 restrictions | News

With some U.S. states beginning to ease restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, global health expert Ashish Jha expects that deaths will rise.

“Everybody agrees that without a big ramp-up on testing, and tracing, and isolation, if we relax restrictions, [the] number of cases are going to go up, [and the] number of deaths are going to go up,” said Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, in a May 5, 2020 interview with Jim Braude on WGBH News’ “Greater Boston.”

Jha said that numbers of coronavirus cases are “either flat or going up” in roughly 40 states. He noted that President Trump’s coronavirus task force established a plan outlining criteria that should be met before states reopen their economies—including that they have 14 days of a downtrend in the number of cases—but “very few states have met that criteria,” Jha said. “States are defying the president’s own recommendations on what should be done.”

Ramping up testing is key, he said. “I don’t actually know anybody who thinks we have enough testing,” he said. “The reason we need testing is because … if you’re going out for a cup of coffee, you’re going to Dunkin’ Donuts, you want to make sure the guy giving you the cup of coffee is not infected and shedding virus. The only way we’re ever going to know those things is if people are getting tested on a regular basis. That is not anywhere close to where we are in the country right now.”

Jha also lamented the lack of federal coordination in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. He said there appears to be a “belief in the White House that if you ignore this problem, if you close your eyes and act like the pandemic isn’t here, that it will magically go away … The problem is, biology doesn’t really much care whether you’re going to ignore it or not.”

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