The White House coronavirus task force estimated in a press conference on Tuesday that the US could see a spike in the coronavirus death toll over the next 14 days, and that the overall number of casualties could range between 100,000 to 240,000. “We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House coronavirus task force.
She later noted that the US has roughly 200,000 ventilators across the country.
During a press conference Tuesday, US President Donald Trump revealed his administration hopes its mitigation efforts will keep the death toll from COVID-19 below 200,000 in the United States. He cautioned the worst two weeks are just beginning.
“The surge is coming, and it’s coming pretty strong,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Trump revealed the US government is holding 10,000 ventilators in reserve.
Experts who defended the administration’s policy at the presser noted that such measures could “flatten the curve” on graphs of cases and deaths reported. Birx estimated this could lower the death toll to 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States from more than 2 million, which Trump later reiterated would have been the result if nothing was done to mitigate the spread.
However, Birx noted this could be substantially lower, as these are conclusions based on models that are based on other cities experiencing the same tidal wave of cases as New York, which is the epicenter of the US outbreak.
Birx said that deaths per day will climax in the next two weeks.
“It’s absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days. It’s a matter of life and death,” Trump said. “We’re going to go through a very tough 2 weeks … this is going to be a very, very painful 2 weeks,” he said. However, Trump anticipated a sudden downward shift in the number of cases as the efforts take effect. “It’s going to be a burst of light.”
However, despite these measures, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cautioned that while these efforts begin to take their effect, the situation will continue to get worse for several weeks before they begin to get better.
“We gotta brace ourselves. We are continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work,” Fauci said.
“As sobering as a number that is, we should be prepared for it to be that much,” Fauci said about the projected death toll. “I hope not. And I think the more we push on the mitigation, the less likely it would be that number.”
US Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading the national coronavirus response task force, noted that more than 1.1 million Americans have been tested for COVID-19 so far and estimated that roughly 100,000 Americans are being tested per day.
The administration has found itself caught in a vise: as businesses and stocks suffer catastrophic losses amid global declines in trade, corporate leaders has pushed for an end to lockdowns and a return to business as usual. At the same time, popular pressure from below has demanded even more stringent measures: tougher controls on social gatherings and more direct pressure on repurposing industries to produce necessary medical goods such as hospital gowns, masks, and ventilators.
On Friday, Trump signed into law a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that included stimulus checks that would be mailed to families as well as loans to small businesses and substantial financial aid to industries impacted by the pandemic, such as the airline, hotel, and cruise line industries. It also provided for potentially $4 trillion in financial stabilization measures in conjunction with the Federal Reserve.
On Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange closed with its indices recording some of their worst first quarters in history.
Header: A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators arrived and before being shipped out for distribution, due to concerns over the rapid spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., March 24, 2020