Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Public health officials stressed Wednesday that the number could be less if people across the country bear down on keeping their distance from one another.
“We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. That would require all Americans to take seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease, she said.
Added Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, “This is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.”
Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in a pandemic that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said.
“This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country,” Trump added. “We’re going to lose thousands of people.”
The jaw-dropping projections were laid out during a grim, two-hour White House briefing. Officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. And the model’s high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World II.
“There’s no magic bullet,” Birx said. “There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors. Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic.”
Fauci called the numbers “sobering” and urged Americans to “step on the accelerator” with their collective mitigation efforts.
“We are continuing to see things go up,” Fauci said. “We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.”