Editorial: Going viral: Coronavirus death totals are rising, but social distancing is working

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More than 3,000 Americans, including more than 1,500 New Yorkers, have now died from coronavirus, serious milestones on a steep road with no exit ramp visible. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said on Monday that projections show up to 200,000 deaths nationwide “if we do things almost perfectly.”

If we don’t do things almost perfectly, failing to keep in place strong social distancing as long as necessary so that already overwhelmed hospitals drown in cases? Shudder to think.

Given steep trend lines here, the United States now leads the world in the number of cases, eclipsing China. That’s not in and of itself alarming. Given Beijing’s penchant for lying, its totals are not to be trusted. More to the point, case totals depend entirely on who gets tested, and standards vary wildly.

For the very same reason, death rates are also inconsistent and unreliable. New York’s now registers at 2% (that’s 1,550 divided by 75,795), which is lower than Italy’s and lower than once feared but orders of magnitude worse than the seasonal flu’s 0.1%.

This is absolutely not just another flu.

This virulent and highly communicable pathogen is in all 50 states, which means New York’s COVID-19 explosion likely preview what’s to come from Minnesota to Mississippi to Michigan to Montana.

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