The White House projects between 100,000 and 200,000 American deaths. Three out of every four Americans are now under some form of lockdown.
On Tuesday, the White House’s coronavirus task force presented grim statistics: Under the best-case scenario for mitigation of the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States, with the number of deaths peaking in the next two weeks. The White House’s numbers, presented in a sobering press conference, are based on statistical models drawing on the best available data that attempt to predict the number of cases and deaths.
“When you see 100,000 people — that’s a minimum number,” President Trump said during the press conference. That’s notable coming from Trump, who, in the early days of the outbreak, downplayed the threat and repeatedly compared it to the flu.
By Tuesday, it seemed the abundant evidence that Covid-19 is much worse than the flu had finally sunk in. “It’s not the flu; it’s vicious,” Trump said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also emphasized that the outbreak and its toll are going to get worse before they get better. “As sobering a number as [100,000 deaths] is,” he said, “we should be prepared for it. Is it going to be that much? I hope not … We need to prepare ourselves — it is a possibility that that’s what we’ll see.”
Fauci said that the models that predict how the death toll will rise are based on data on how the outbreak is unfolding in New York and abroad. The estimates could change if the situation on the ground begins to look different. But the truth is that there are currently more than 180,000 cases of Covid-19 in the United States, and there have been more than 3,000 deaths. And its spread has clearly not yet peaked.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, citing projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said deaths are expected to peak in the next two weeks. “This is going to be a very painful, very very painful two weeks,” Trump said.