Trump says country ‘near the peak’ of coronavirus outbreak, death toll should be under 100,000
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President Trump on Friday said he believes the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic will be “substantially less” than the 100,000 projected last week, arguing the country is nearing the peak of the outbreak.
During his daily coronavirus task force briefing from the White House, the president walked back earlier projections from officials that the country could see between 100,000 and 240,000 coronavirus deaths.
“I think we’ll be substantially under that number,” Trump said. “In the midst of all this grief and pain, we’re seeing these signs and seeing them very strongly, and a lot of that has to do with our aggressive strategy in saving lives.”
Trump went on to say that “if you have 60,000 deaths, you can never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally thinking.”
The “60,000” figure comes from updates to modeling, and a projection by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We’ll see what it ends up being but it seems we’re heading to a number substantially below the 100 mark,” Trump said.
The president also said that he expects that the country is nearing the “peak” of cases of COVID-19, and touted the whole of government response to the virus.
“We are near the peak,” Trump said. “And our comprehensive strategy is working.”
But Dr. Deborah Birx, just minutes later, took the podium warning Americans that “we have not reached the peak,” and said “we need to continue doing what we’re doing.”
She added: “We’re united in social distancing and that’s been encouraging to all of us.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci also doubled-down on Birx’s warning.
“This is the end of the week – we’re starting to see that leveling off and the coming down, but it is important to remember that this is not the time to feel that, since we have made such important advance in success in mitigation, that we need to be pulling back at all,” Fauci said.
Meanwhile, the president said the U.S. is “leading the world in testing,” and has conducted more than 2 million COVID-19 tests, and continues to conduct at least 100,000 tests per day.
The president also said the federal government was sending 10 million N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators to states across the nation.
Trump said the administration has launched “Project Airbridge,” which is delivering PPE, and shipping out 60 sterilization systems that can sterilize up to 80,000 to 120,000 masks each day.
“There is tremendous progress being made,” Trump said.
As of Friday afternoon the U.S. reported more than 475,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and nearly 18,000 deaths.