We Haven't 'Hit the Peak' in U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Yet, Warns Nate Silver

Daily deaths from the novel coronavirus continue to rise in the U.S., with the country now having 28,000 deaths among its 639,600 confirmed cases, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The country's death toll may have not reached its peak, with each day reporting a higher daily death count than the same day a week prior, according to American statistician Nate Silver.

Figures across various states may also increase following new guidelines on counting cases and deaths issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this week.

Silver wrote in a post Wednesday on his Twitter account: "The one thing to be slightly mindful of is that states may now be going back and counting deaths that they missed before, and it's not exactly clear how this might show up in the data. Occam's razor is that we hadn't hit the peak in the number of deaths yet."

Occam's razor is a logic principle attributed to English philosopher William of Ockham. It assumes the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one.

The CDC states on its website: "As of April 14, 2020, CDC case counts and death counts include both confirmed and probable cases and deaths. This change was made to reflect an interim COVID-19 position statement issued by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists on April 5, 2020. The position statement included a case definition and made COVID-19 a nationally notifiable disease."

"A confirmed case or death is defined by meeting confirmatory laboratory evidence for COVID-19. A probable case or death is defined by i) meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19; or ii) meeting presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence; or iii) meeting vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID19," the CDC explains.

Silver also noted: "It looks like this week is likely to bring a new peak in deaths, rather than Tuesday being a one-day anomaly. Each day has continued to bring a higher death count *than the same day one week earlier*, which is a good day to avoid day-of-week effects," in another post Wednesday on Twitter.

While the daily death toll has been increasing every week, the rate of increase in new fatalities has been dropping in recent weeks, according to the latest figures reported by state health departments, state governments and Johns Hopkins University.

On April 14 (the date from which the new CDC guidelines applied), the reported daily death toll in the U.S. saw a dramatic spike, climbing from around 1,500 on April 13 to over 2,400.

A week prior to April 15, the daily death count was at nearly 1,900 on April 8, increasing by nearly 26 percent in a week.

Two weeks from April 15, the daily death count was at nearly 1,000 on April 1. The daily death toll had nearly doubled in a week.

San Diego, theater, coronavirus, California, April 2020
Outside the Spreckels Theatre as entertainment venues remain closed due to coronavirus on April 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. Getty Images

Last week, U.S. health officials warned the country to brace for a peak in deaths across the country. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News on Sunday: "This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives...it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country."

Silver argues: "I'm not sure why we should necessarily have expected deaths to peak last week given that new cases had not really begun to decline yet. The case is stronger now that new cases are declining, so fingers crossed we'll see that in deaths in 7-10 days," he wrote in another post on Twitter.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus, in a selection of states.

coronavirus covid-19 new york statista
Cases of COVID-19 in New York. Statista

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said at a White House press briefing: "The data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak of new cases."

"Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress," he said.

Trump also noted that some states may lift restrictions and reopen this month, with new guidelines to be issued on Thursday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to at least 185 countries and regions. The U.S. remains the epicenter of the outbreak. The novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China and has infected more than two million people. Over 517,400 have reportedly recovered from infection, while more than 137,100 have died, as of Thursday.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S.
The spread of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. STATISTA

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.