Disease modelers at Columbia University estimate that if the U.S. had started implementing social distancing and lockdown measures one week earlier in March, roughly 36,000 coronavirus deaths could have been prevented. The first imported case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was reported on Jan. 20, with community transmission established in the weeks following. Federal social distancing measures, which asked Americans to avoid unnecessary travel and social gatherings, were enacted in mid-March. The researchers estimate that if action was taken even earlier than a week before that, with cities going on lockdown and people limiting contact with others beginning on March 1, about 83 percent of the country's deaths could have been avoided. As of Wednesday night, there are more than 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 93,383 deaths.
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