Administration: 100M New Cases Are Possible

Warning of big wave this fall and winter is designed to increase preparation and funding
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2022 4:00 PM CDT
Administration: 100M New Cases Are Possible
In this image provided by the Army, 1st Lt. Hailey Oliver, a medical surgical nurse deployed to Minneapolis, opens a new face mask before entering a COVID-19 patient's room at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in February.   (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Logan Ludwig)

With a combination of factors making a major wave of coronavirus infections look more likely later this year, the Biden administration has raised the alarm by suggesting a distressing scenario: 100 million new cases over fall and winter. Deaths and hospitalizations would post sharp increases, the Washington Post reports. A senior administration official included the warning in a briefing for reporters on Friday, basing it on outside models rather than new data. The administration is trying to get Americans to prepare and Congress to allocate funding to pay for more vaccine, tests, and therapeutics.

"What they're saying seems reasonable—it's on the pessimistic side of what we projected in the COVID-19 scenario modeling run," said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at University of North Carolina. Lessler said it's becoming even more difficult to predict COVID trends, with so much still not known about the coronvirus, as well as human behavior in response. For example, an epidemiologist at Columbia University said that at this point, "Predicting new variants that are going to spill out—that's total guesswork." Officials said the 100 million estimate assumes that no additional resources or mitigation measures are deployed in the COVID-19 battle, per CNN.

Other experts agree that a big wave is possible starting in the fall given that immunity from vaccines and infections is waning, restrictions are being relaxed, and new variants appear better at avoiding immune protections. The seven-day US average of new infections more than doubled between March 30 and Friday, from 29,312 to almost 71,000. The South is bracing for a summer wave, as it has had the past two years, and the administration is concerned that it will deplete the US supply of antivirals and tests. President Biden asked Congress for another $22.5 billion, which lawmakers cut to $10 billion last month and then stalled. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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