RESEARCHERS believe that at least 54,000 lives could have been saved if social distancing began just two weeks earlier amid the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a new model from Columbia University released on Wednesday, tens of thousands of coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if states issued stay-at-home orders on March 1.
An estimated 36,000 fewer people would have died from the pandemic in the US if officials enacted the orders one week sooner.
Around 83 percent of deaths in the country would have been avoided, according to researchers.
“It’s a big, big difference,” Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia, told The New York Times.
"That small moment in time, catching it in that growth phase, is incredibly critical in reducing the number of deaths.”
On March 9, President Donald Trump tweeted: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year.”
“Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
On March 10, Trump said of the virus: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic on March 11.
Within the coming days, Trump declared a national emergency and announced the European travel ban.
Governors then began issuing stay-at-home orders starting on March 19, when the US had nearly 9,200 cases.
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order didn’t take effect until March 22, when the state — the epicenter of the country’s outbreak — had more than 7,000 cases and close to 40 deaths.
On Thursday, Trump told reporters the Columbia study was a “political hit job.”
"Columbia's an institution that's very liberal," he claimed. "I think it's just a political hit job, if you want to know the truth."
"I was so early," he said of his response to the virus. "I was earlier than anybody thought."
Trump implemented travel restrictions on those coming from China on January 31; It temporarily barred entry by foreign nationals who had traveled in China within the previous 14 days, with exceptions for the immediate family of US citizens and permanent residents.
By that point, nearly 40 countries had already imposed travel restrictions on China, and most major airlines had suspended flights to China after several major international carriers stopped because of the outbreak.
The State Department had already told Americans not to travel to China because of the outbreak.
As of this week, all 50 states have started to ease restrictions and most are allowing businesses, like restaurants, to open and operate with indoor dining and at larger capacities.
More than 1.6million cases of coronavirus and over 96,000 deaths have been reported in the US.
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