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White House Projects Up to 240,000 Deaths in U.S. From COVID-19

The coronavirus task force said the grim death toll could happen even with social distancing guidelines.

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White House officials said up to 240,000 people in the U.S. could die from coronavirus, even if proper social distancing measures are followed. 

During a two-hour coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday, response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci gave projections on the surging coronavirus pandemic. They predicted that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from the virus even with “full mitigation” measures—which include people staying home and practicing social distancing. Without those protocols, officials said the number of deaths could reach the millions. 

“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Fauci said during the briefing. “We're doing everything we can to get it even significantly below that.” 

As of Wednesday morning, the U.S. leads the world in the number of infections with more than 189,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,700 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker. 

After Trump said the country could be “up and raring to go” by Easter (April 12) on March 24, he extended the country’s social distancing guidelines five days later to April 30, calling the initial date “aspirational.”

The coronavirus task force said that the number of cases and deaths in the U.S. are expected to peak in about two weeks, or around mid-April. 

Around the world, countries that were also hit hard by the virus are reportedly seeing a decline in cases. China’s number of cases have significantly decreased, and a majority of patients have recovered. Officials in Wuhan, where the first public cases of the virus were detected in December, said last week that it did not have any new cases for several days. Officials in Italy have also reported that the country was starting to see a slow in numbers as well, after four weeks of strict guidelines. 

“The curve shows us that we reached the plateau, evidence which proves that the restrictive measures are working,” said Silvio Brusaferro, president of the National Institute of Health in Italy.