SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Two thousand people are estimated to die from COVID-19 in the next 12 weeks in Santa Clara county alone in what the San Jose city manager called the best-case scenario.

“This again is the best case and even there we are likely to see many, many hundreds or up to 2,000 deaths,” said San Jose deputy city manager Kip Harkness during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The report by city manager David Sykes gave three scenarios for COVID-19 deaths.

One projection showed a death toll of about 16,000 by June if the community and government officials did nothing to stop the spread of the virus. The second projection showed a death toll of nearly 8,000 if there was low compliance. The last prediction showed 2,000 deaths from the virus if 70 percent of the public obeyed all orders, Harkness said.

“There are a large number walking around who are infected,” he told city council members.

As of Thursday, the death toll in Santa Clara county stood at 19. If the projection of the lowest number of deaths is correct that means it would surpass the current total number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

KPIX asked Harkness and the San Jose Office of Emergency Management for an interview to explain the path to the projections but, instead, received a statement from Sykes that read in part, “The information about the predicted number of cases is based on the city of San Jose projections and are preliminary estimates. They show how effective the county’s orders are, in terms of how we can save a lot of lives if the community is diligent in following the county’s health orders.”

Officials with the Santa Clara County Emergency Operations Center released a statement that appeared to distance itself from the city’s projection. The statement read “The model shared by the City of San Jose projecting deaths and future case counts of COVID-19 was not produced, reviewed or vetted by the County of Santa Clara.”

Harkness also said in the meeting that we will begin to see maximum impact on the health care system in the next three weeks. He added that he did not believe that the county would be out of the stay-at-home order by the county’s original end date of April 7.

“The next three weeks are critical. Even with full compliance, we are looking at a high into the right exponential growth of the epidemic,” said Harkness.

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