President Donald Trump raised the estimated U.S. coronavirus death toll to 100,000 after previously saying disease mitigation efforts had done better than expected and lowered the death toll below the 100,000 to 200,000 estimate previously predicted by members of his coronavirus team.
On Sunday, during a Fox News coronavirus town hall, Trump returned his death toll estimate closer to the 100,000 mark. Trump said, “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.”
Trump: “Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people” to COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/lwAH7zPDQR
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 4, 2020
At the end of March, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force suggested a likely death toll of between 100,000 to 200,000 even with Americans closely following mitigation efforts. After the U.S. appeared to pass the apex of its cases in April, Trump suggested the U.S. could come in lower than Fauci and Birx predicted even with disease mitigation efforts, and Trump said the number coronavirus deaths could be down to around 60,000.
The U.S. recently surpassed 67,000 coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus case tracking map, and Trump’s comments during Sunday’s coronavirus town hall suggested he believes there are still many more to come.
Trump did credit his administration’s coronavirus mitigation efforts with having reduced the death toll from a figure in the millions.
“The minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five,” Trump said of the coronavirus death toll if the U.S. had not taken mitigation steps. “That’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher, it’s possible higher than 2.2 [million].”
The New York Times has reported that since April, there have been around 1,000 new coronavirus deaths confirmed each day. The Trump administration’s coronavirus models had predicted that, by contrast, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths would start to fall dramatically after mid April. The real path of the virus suggests that while the U.S. may have surpassed the apex of cases, the number of deaths has not begun to fall in a significant way.
Despite the virus’ continued trajectory, Trump has supported efforts to get various states to ease lockdown measures and reopen portions of the economy, since coronavirus closures have left more than 30 million Americans out of work.
Trump also offered an optimistic note during the coronavirus town hall, stating he believes there will be a vaccine ready by the end of the year, potentially exceeding predictions a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to prepare and validate before the general public can use it. The Trump administration is reportedly organizing an effort, under the name “Operation Warp Speed,” to accelerate the U.S.’ vaccine development process against coronavirus.