W.H. predicts upward of 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths, as Trump warns of 'painful’ weeks ahead

Tuesday - 31/03/2020 19:37
President Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Tuesday. President Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Tuesday.(Alex Brandon/A
President Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Tuesday. President Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Tuesday.(Alex Brandon/A
The doctors stressed that the death toll could be lower if Americans radically change their lifestyles over the next few weeks.

President Trump warned the nation Tuesday to brace for “a hell of a bad two weeks," as his top infectious disease experts projected that upward of 240,000 people will die from coronavirus in the U.S. even if current social distancing guidelines are precisely maintained.

Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, two of the country’s top immunologists and senior advisers on Trump’s coronavirus task force, offered an extremely alarming estimate during a briefing at the White House.

The doctors stressed that the death toll could be lower if Americans radically change their lifestyles over the next few weeks.

However, they noted that the nation shouldn’t be surprised if between 100,000 and 240,000 lives are lost before the COVID-19 pandemic is relegated to the past.

“As sobering as that number is, we should be prepared for it,” Fauci said. “We have to prepare ourselves.”
 

President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, in Washington.
President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady
Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, in Washington.(Alex Brandon/AP)


As part of its guidelines, the administration is advising non-essential workers to stay at home and a ban on gatherings larger than 10 people, among other components. The guidelines aren’t mandatory, but many cities and states have independently implemented corresponding measures that are obligatory, including New York.

After at first saying he wanted to scrap the guidelines completely by Easter, Trump switched course Sunday and extended them until at least April 30.

At Tuesday’s briefing, Birx warned that if those guidelines aren’t now religious followed, as many as 2.2 million people could die in the U.S.

Trump, who downplayed the severity of the virus for weeks and keeps making misleading statements about it, struck an unusually somber note as he took questions after Birx and Fauci laid out their projections.
 

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks
about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, in Washington,
as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (Alex Brandon/AP)


“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks ... or maybe even three weeks," he said. "This is going to be three weeks like we haven’t seen before.”

“This is going to be painful — very, very painful,” he added.

More than 785 people died from coronavirus across the U.S. on Tuesday — the highest single-day death toll so far.

That put the total U.S. death toll close to 4,000 — higher than China’s count. The U.S. already has more than 180,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than any other country.

The Trump administration’s slow rollout of coronavirus testing has been identified as part of the reason why the virus is wreaking havoc across the country.

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 Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19

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