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White House Projects Grim Toll From Coronavirus

Models predicting expected spread of the virus in the U.S. paint a grim picture.
The top government scientists battling the coronavirus estimated Tuesday that the deadly pathogen could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, in spite of the social distancing measures that have closed schools, banned large gatherings, limited travel and forced people to stay in their homes.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the coronavirus response, displayed that grim projection at the White House on Tuesday, calling it “our real number” but pledging to do everything possible to reduce those numbers even further.

President Trump, who on Sunday extended for 30 days the government’s recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus, made it clear that the data compiled by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx convinced him that the death toll would be even higher if the restrictions on work, school, travel and social life were not taken seriously by all Americans.

The data released on Tuesday was the first time that Mr. Trump’s administration has officially estimated the breadth of the threat to human life from the coronavirus, and the disease it brings, known as Covid-19. In the past several weeks, Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci have resisted predicting how many people might die in the pandemic, saying that there was not Time For News enough reliable data.

President Trump said at his daily White House coronavirus briefing that “this is going to be a very painful, very very painful two weeks,” but that Americans will soon “start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We’re going through a very tough few weeks,” Mr. Trump said, later raising his two weeks to three.

Striking perhaps his most somber tone on the subject to date, Mr. Trump said the virus is a “great national trial unlike any we have ever faced before,” and said it would require the “full absolute measure of our collective strength, love and devotion” in order to minimize the number of people infected.


“It’s a matter of life and death, frankly,” he said, officially Press Release Distribution Services calling for another month of social distancing and offering a sober assessment of the pandemic’s impact in the United States. “It’s a matter of life and death.”

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, urged Americans to follow the guidelines: no groups larger than 10 people, no unnecessary travel, no going to restaurants or bars.

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