Donald Trump has warned America to brace for a “very, very painful two weeks” as the White House predicted up to 240,000 Americans could die from coronavirus in the coming weeks. The shock projection comes just days after Trump said he hoped the US to be back to normal with businesses open by Easter.
The news came before a two-hour briefing, where the president defended his early handling of the crisis.
He told reporters at the White House: “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.
“We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.
“This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”
On Tuesday the US death toll to coronavirus soared past 3,800, according to the Guardian.
This is more than China, where the outbreak began.
On Tuesday, Trump’s experts said their prediction models sowed between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus, even if citizens abided by social distancing rules.
Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus taskforce response coordinator, told reporters that models show a worst case scenario of between 1.5m and 2.2m deaths in the US “without mitigation”.
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But with measures properly put in place, she said the “mountain” could be reduced to a “hill” – this being the 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
She added that the figure could be further reduced if people changed their behaviour.
Asked whether Americans were ready for 100,000 deaths, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “The answer is yes. As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.
“Is it going to be that much?
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“I hope not, and I think the more we push on the mitigation, the less likelihood it will be that number.
“We are really convinced mitigation is going to be doing the trick for us.”
He added: “We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working.
“Now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator and on the brake, but to just press it down on the accelerator.
“And that’s what I hope and I know that we can do over the next 30 days.”
On Sunday, Trump backtracked on his previous declaration – that the economy would restart by Easter – and urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, around 4,000 crew are currently stuck onboard the Theodore Roosevelt US navy aircraft ship which is thought to be going through a localised outbreak of COVID-19.
The ship’s captain, Brett Crozier, wrote an urgent letter to the Pentagon on Sunday, pleading for help to stop the virus’ spread.
He wrote: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. Decisive action is needed.
“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure.
“This is a necessary risk.”
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