Thanks to everyone who took self-isolation and stay-at-home guidelines seriously, the U.S. government is now expecting significantly fewer deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than before.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, announced Wednesday that newly updated models show a major decline in the number of predicted cases and fatalities linked to COVID-19, CNN reports. There's still a long way to go, but the new numbers are a reassuring sign that social distancing measures have been working.
"What has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us that have been in the science field for so long, is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes," Birx said at a Wednesday press conference. "That's what's changing the rate of new cases, and that's what will change the rate of mortality going forward."
Thanks to an influx of new data over the weekend, the government's models predict that COVID-19 will kill about 60,000 people in America over the next four months, according to CNN. Before that, government estimates ranged as high as hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths.
The new numbers still represent a massive tragedy — especially knowing how long the government waited to act and how many missteps it took along the way. For instance, the models still predict a shortage of about 16,000 hospital beds nationwide for severe coronavirus infections.
What's crucial, though, is that people continue to physically isolate themselves for the duration of the outbreak. The new models assume that everyone stays indoors and continues to self-quarantine for the entire four-month period — so this doesn’t mean we're out of the woods yet.