The task force predicted on March 31 that the pandemic could cost between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives, even if federal guidelines were maintained, in part based on evidence from Europe. There is now a cautious optimism that the final total, although still monumental, will be lower.
Response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx told reporters: “We have carefully studied Italy and Spain and in many cases we are doing much better than many other countries and we are trying to understand this. We think our health care delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary. “
A model led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine predicts that the virus will kill 60,000 people in the United States in the next four months, about 33,000 less than its estimate last Thursday. .
Birx continued, “It’s modeled on what America is doing. That’s what’s going on and I think what has been so remarkable for those of us who have been in science for so long is the importance of behavior change and how Americans are amazing to adapt and follow these behavioral changes.
“And this is what changes the rate of new cases and it is what will change mortality in the future, as we are now in the period of full mitigation which should be reflected in the coming weeks of decreasing mortality. This is what we really hope to see. We are impressed by the American people. “
The public response will change the way scientists view respiratory illnesses and think about what is possible, added Birx. “We are still really impressed by the strength of the American people in this area. “
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, added, “This is a consequence of the commitment of the American people … What is remarkable to observe here is how the American public changed their behavior when it protects vulnerable people. “
And Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the briefing: “Remember, what you do with the data will always go beyond a model. You redo your models based on your data and our data tells us that mitigation works. Again, as Dr. Birx said, keep your foot on the gas because that’s what will help us get through this. “
The task force, however, cautioned against complacency, stressing that advice should always be followed and warning that moving too early could result in a “second wave”. After the end of the current guidelines on April 30, a battle looms between cautious public health experts and Trump’s business team who are anxious to restart.
Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host whose name Trump verified on Tuesday, tweeted, “At some point the president is going to have to watch Drs. Fauci and Birx and let’s say we will open on May 1st. Give me your best guidelines on protocols, but we can no longer deprive our people of their fundamental freedoms. “
At the briefing on Wednesday, Trump looked optimistic about the prospect of business picking up earlier than some had anticipated. “By aspiration, I said let’s see if we can do it at Easter, but I said it would be very difficult, and I was criticized for it.
“But I don’t think we’re going to be far behind and some of these models seem like Easter is going to be a very important date anyway because of the curve. It reaches the summit and begins to descend. “
Trump has said that Louisiana needs far fewer beds than expected, a makeshift hospital at the Javits Center in New York “is not being used too much” and in general “the numbers are going down.” He continued, “I don’t get calls where they need fans anymore, so we were right about those fans” – although he took a call from Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado on Tuesday night to ask for a hundred .
Such claims are likely to cause Trump to fall into complacency, even though states such as New York and New Jersey are fighting for fans and other equipment. The current death toll in the United States is over 13,000.
Trump was also questioned about reports that US intelligence officials warned in late November that the coronavirus was spreading to the Wuhan region of China and posed a serious threat. He said, “When I learned of the seriousness of the situation, it was just before I closed the country to China … so I don’t know exactly, but I would like to see the news. “
The briefing also got lost in the nonsense when a journalist asked him if he would consider a pardon for Joe Exotic, who tried to hire a hitman to kill a rival and whose story is told in the hit Netflix Tiger King series. “Do you think he didn’t?” Said Trump. “Do you recommend forgiveness? He added, “I’ll take a look. “