Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield indicated Thursday that coronavirus deaths in the United States should begin falling by next week as case numbers have continued to decline since late July.
So far since the start of the outbreak, the U.S. has reported more than 5.5 million cases and 170,000 deaths as a result of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. And over the last 24 days, the nation's seven-day average for daily deaths has consistently topped 1,000.
But that number is primed to fall, noted Redfield in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"You and I are going to see the cases continue to drop. And then hopefully this week and next week, you're going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop again," he predicted.
When states experience steady declines in case numbers — as several states across the Southern and Western regions of the country have recently — it typically means that death rates will follow.
"It is important to understand these interventions are going to have a lag, that lag is going to be three to four weeks," Redfield continued. "Hopefully this week and next week you're going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop."
Coronavirus Update From the CDC With Robert R. Redfield, MD youtu.be
Redfield said he would like to see the number of daily new deaths fall below 250, which has not happened since the start of the outbreak earlier this year.
In early July, before the start of what Redfield calls the "southern outbreak," the number of daily new deaths fell to roughly 500.
The director added that even as Southern and Western states such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona are improving, there are worrying figures coming out of "Middle America," in states such as Nebraska and Oklahoma.
"We're starting to see some of the cases now in the red zone areas are falling, but if you look at those states that are in what we call the yellow zone, between 5% and 10%, they're not falling, so middle America right now is getting stuck," he said. "This is why it's so important for middle America to recognize the mitigation steps that we talked about, about masks, about social distancing, hand washing, closing bars, being smart about crowds."