The inclusion of such cases will add thousands to the total number of patients and deaths by including people who didn’t have a positive test but showed signs of having the virus.
Previously, the CDC was only counting cases that had been confirmed by them or cases where the agency had yet to confirm a test done by a local or private entity.
A probable case or death is defined as one that meets clinical criteria such as symptoms and evidence of the disease with no lab test confirming Covid-19. It can also be classified as a probable case if there are death or other vital records listing coronavirus as a cause. A third way to classify it is through presumptive laboratory evidence and either clinical criteria or evidence of the disease.
New York City’s Health Department said Tuesday it is now reporting “probable” Covid-19 deaths of individuals who have not been tested for the coronavirus but are presumed to be positive. The 4,059 probable cases pushed the death toll in New York City to nearly 11,000 victims.
“The fact is, we have to be honest and always acknowledge the full impact,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN’s “New Day.”
“We think it is smart and really fair to those families and to everyone to say, look, a lot of these deaths … the medical professionals … they couldn’t confirm it was Covid because there wasn’t time do a test but they thought that’s what it was.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state will begin counting probable deaths, based on the CDC’s guidance.
The CDC count is 605,390 cases of novel coronavirus in the United States and 24,582 people deaths.
The daily death toll was 2,405 on Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins tally.
Protesters don’t want to stay at home
All but seven states are under stay-at-home orders from their governors. And medical experts have said the key to having fewer daily reports of coronavirus is for people to adhere to those edicts.
But in at least two states, groups of people have gone to the state capital to protest, saying their individual freedoms are being trampled on.
CNN affiliate WLNS reported that many protesters gathered on the Capitol property.
“It’s time for our state to be opened up. We’re tired of not being able to buy the things that we need,” Brenda Essman of Kalamazoo told the station. “We need to open our businesses.”
Another woman told WLNS that her husband was on unemployment for the first time ever.
“We want to go back to work. We have employees. We have bills to pay,” Renee Aldrich said. “The only stores open are Walmart. That’s ridiculous.”
The governor said she understood people were frustrated and respected their opinions. She said she was disappointed in protesters who endangered people by congregating and not wearing masks.
She told reporters she was working on a data-driven approach to reopening.
“I want to be very clear that our decision to reengage sectors is going to be based on the best facts and the best science,” she said.
She said if the state acts too early there will be a second wave of cases.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, dozens of demonstrators gathered Tuesday outside the state legislative building to protest the state’s stay-at-home order, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.
After an hour, police officers asked the group to disperse, saying too many people were there, too close together. Most left; one person was taken away in handcuffs after refusing to leave, WRAL reported.
Are cases topping out?
Despite the grim numbers, health officials have said they believe US numbers are leveling,
“There’s no doubt what we’ve seen over the last several days is a flattening out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”
Still, officials are warning that states shouldn’t yet ease up on social distancing measures because a resurgence of the virus is highly likely once Americans begin getting out of the house again.
What will be key to preventing another deadly wave in the country are the tools to track and monitor new cases.
“You want your resources to be able to very efficiently in real-time identify, isolate, and contact trace,” Fauci said.
In the meantime, finding the right time to reopen the country is still a work in progress.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to make sure testing, contact tracing and an expanded public health capacity is in place as the country begins talking about opening back up, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.
“This is going to be fundamental to maintain and contain cases as they occur and then make sure we have the health capacity to deal with this, as we work to regain the confidence of the American public that it’s safe to go back to work,” Redfield said Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”
A team led by the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has drafted a strategy to return the country to work that includes guidance for local and state governments on how to reopen safely and in phases, the Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, governors have begun diving into discussions about the first steps toward reopening their economies, with many of the nation’s stay-at-home orders, as well as the federal government’s social distancing guidelines, set to expire at the end of the month.
But many state leaders who are still seeing their number of cases climb say it’s too soon to begin thinking about lifting any measures.
How will states know when to reopen?
All that some state leaders have offered so far are indicators of when their state may begin thinking about reopening.
Those include the state’s ability to track and monitor infected individuals through testing, contact tracing and isolating procedures, as well as its ability to prevent infection of at-risk groups.
“Science, not politics must be the guide. It cannot be ideological,” he said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. … I don’t want to make a political decision. That puts people’s lives at risk.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told residents of his state he was expecting “difficult days and weeks ahead.” He said officials have begun conversations around reopening the state but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before a plan is set into motion.
The state will need to have testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures in place to reopen, the governor said.
“I think it’s going to be really important that we all pay attention to what the others are up to, and to make sure that nobody does anything that puts somebody in a really bad spot, because they just weren’t thinking about what that impact was going to be on some other part of the Northeastern part of the US,” he said.
In Ohio, Director of the Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton said that the state would first need to see a sustained decrease in the number of new cases — so low that officials could trace each infected resident — before considering reopening the state.
But even when that happens, until there’s a vaccine, daily life won’t look like it did before, the state’s governor said, and institutions will need to take precautions to prevent further infections.
“Until there is a vaccine — this monster is going to be working around us. When we start opening businesses and schools back up, it’s going to be different,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Gisela Crespo, Mallory Simon, Joe Sutton, Jamiel Lynch, Keith Allen and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.