CA could face 5,000 coronavirus deaths a week if social distancing eases too soon: Bay Area health officer

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California faces 5,000 coronavirus deaths a week if the state’s stay-at-home policies are relaxed too early, a health officer in the Bay Area said Tuesday.

“Some of the modeling is predicting — at the peak — up to 5,000 deaths a week throughout California,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, told his Board of Supervisors. That would mean 600 deaths a week from the disease known as COVID-19 in the central San Francisco Bay Area, and 100 to 200 deaths a week in Contra Costa County, he said.

“We are still hopeful we can avoid [this scenario] if we don’t relax our efforts to flatten the curve,” said Farnitano, who shared the possible epidemic outcomes on the same day that six Bay Area counties extended and strengthened the nation’s first coronavirus shelter-in-place order.

The news came as local health officials began revealing estimates of potential coronavirus death tolls in various counties Tuesday. There could be 2,000 to 14,000 deaths in Contra Costa County, and perhaps 1,000 deaths in Ventura County, health officers for both counties said. Last week, the city of San Jose released an estimate saying there could be 2,000 to 16,000 coronavirus deaths in Santa Clara County.

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