University of Washington coronavirus modeler: Data showing 'the worst is behind us'

Dr. Ali Mokdad, the physician behind the influential coronavirus pandemic model at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Fox News Friday that "the worst is behind us as a country."

"We are going to go down in terms of mortality," Mokdad told a special edition of "Bill Hemmer Reports". "Some states will peak a little bit later but California, [Washington], New York are going to go down in terms of numbers of mortality. It's very positive as we move forward that the worst is behind us as a country, for some states it will take a week or so."

Mokdad added that "[Today] is the first time that our data is showing the mortality will be declining from now on and it will go down from now on."

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The professor of health metrics sciences said officials should begin discussions about reopening the economy, though he added that citizens should not hope for an immediate change.

"It's important for us as we talk about reopening our businesses [but] we aren't out of danger yet, we need to stress that. We need to do it in phases and make sure we bring some people in," he said.

"Testing is very important, public surveillance is important."

Earlier Friday, White House coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters that "for the first time in the United States, we're starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago, and so this gives us great heart, that we're starting to see that change."

Birx praised "the citizens of New York and New Jersey and ... Connecticut and now Rhode Island" for doing their part to "really change the course of this pandemic and really change the trajectory of new cases."

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"We still see cases occurring in Boston and Chicago but the rate seems to be stabilizing," Birx added. "We want to call out the mayors of Baltimore, [Washington] D.C., and Philadelphia, who are starting to change curves in those areas.

"We're united in social distancing," the doctor added. "That's been very encouraging to all of us. It should be encouraging to health care providers on the front lines who are serving with such dignity and respect. Our mortality [rate] in the U.S. is significantly less than many other countries."

However, Birx also warned that for all the encouraging signs, "we haven't reached the peak."