(CNN)A leading epidemiologist advising the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated the peak of deaths in the US coronavirus pandemic will be three weeks from now, after which "most of the damage will be done," and says it may be possible to only isolate the vulnerable, allowing many back to work.
Coronavirus deaths in the US could reach peak in three weeks, epidemiologist says
The CDC confirmed that Ira Longini, professor at the Center for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida, is a "funded partner." The agency said he works with them on Covid-19 modeling.
Modeling is not precise, and uses known data to project trends in disease spread, and there were dissenting opinions expressed to CNN about Longini's analysis. Yet two other disease experts broadly agreed with the estimate.
Longini's suggestion that US deaths could peak in less than a month will have two possible impacts. First, a sudden surge in deaths risks overwhelming health care systems that are currently struggling to prepare for cases needing intensive care. Secondly and conversely, it could support calls -- echoed by President Trump -- to reduce restrictions on movement in the coming weeks.
Longini said: "I would guess the US will hit a peak in deaths in the next two-three weeks, as the doubling time seems to be about two-three days." He added: "Maybe a partial lifting of the shelter-in-place for those less vulnerable may make some sense, in about three weeks. By then, much of the damage will have been done."
Asked if there could be a risk of a relapse when the virus circulated again in the following weeks, he said: "If it w