On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state was all but fully reopening, including full in-person dining, after a summer surge of cases.
“There will not be limitations from the state of Florida,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference. “In fact, we're also cognizant about the need for business certainty.”
What is certain, according to an influential model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, is that coronavirus deaths could more than double and top 400,000 by January—and the picture could be even worse if people don’t wear masks.
The model, which some have questioned for its underlying assumptions and predictive value, projects over 370,000 deaths in the U.S. by the beginning of January if reopening policies don’t change, and over 425,000 if the U.S. re-opens even further. Universal mask-wearing would put a huge dent in those numbers, the model predicts: that could result in a still-staggering 275,062 deaths by January 1. Currently, according to the CDC, more than 202,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, more than three times the number of Americans who died or went MIA during the lengthy Vietnam War.
Some, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, have said the U.S. response to coronavirus is the worst in the world. America has about 62 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, among the 11 worst per capita death rates in the world, far greater than that of many smaller, poorer countries, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Twenty-five U.S. states have fully re-opened, according to the New York Times, with others on their way soon, while other states like California and Texas have reversed their reopening plans amid surges.
President Trump was briefed about the virus twice in January, long before it ran out of control in the U.S., and admitted in a then-unreleased interview tape in March he wanted to “play it down” to the public in regards to the threat COVID-19 posed.
Throughout his response to the pandemic, the president has consistently claimed the worst is almost over and things are getting better with time, even as deaths soar. In February, he said, “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear,” and in May he claimed, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed.”
Trump has made numerous comments and taken actions that go against scientific consensus on what would save the most lives, including encouraging the use of a discredited treatment for coronavirus, having political appointees alter scientific information from the CDC, holding large campaign rallies inside without social distancing, casting doubt on the need for widespread testing, and mocking those who wear masks.