Internal government documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show that officials are projecting that hundreds of thousands of Americans will die if state governments across the United States lift pandemic lockdown restrictions.
"Federal health officials estimated in early April that more than 300,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 if all social distancing measures are abandoned, and later estimates pushed the possible death toll even higher," reporter Liz Essley Whyte writes on the Center for Public Integrity's website. "In the documents, the 'best guess' for how things will play out without further mitigation says that coronavirus cases and deaths would double about every five and a half days."
As horrific as this sounds, experts who spoke with Whyte actually said they were underestimating the death toll of lifting lockdown restrictions.
"Their model’s way too optimistic," said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "They’re getting their analysis wrong."
States such as Georgia and Florida have already started making moves to reopen their economies despite the fact that they're still seeing their daily case numbers increase.
The internal documents suggest Florida has the most to lose by ending its lockdown early, as it's projected to see an additional 23,000 deaths if social distancing restrictions are rescinded.