President Donald Trump has warned that the death toll in the United States from the coronavirus epidemic could reach 100,000 – revising his estimate of the number of people the epidemic could kill by tens of thousands.
“Look, we’re going to lose between 75, 80 and 100,000 people. It’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose a single person, “said Trump at a Fox News virtual town hall.
There have been 1.1 million confirmed cases and more than 67,000 deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the NBC News count.
The president said on Friday that he hoped fewer than 100,000 Americans would die in the epidemic and last week spoke of 60,000 to 70,000 deaths.
On April 20, Trump said the figure could be between 50,000 and 60,000. Internal administrative documents seen by NBC News show that the federal government ordered more than 100,000 body bags the next day.
Earlier Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx, who coordinates the White House response to the pandemic, said her predictions had always been that up to 240,000 Americans could die in the pandemic.
“Our forecast has always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost, with total mitigation and teaching us how to distance ourselves socially,” she told Fox News.
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Continuing a key theme in Trump’s Coronavirus statements, Trump attacked China and suggested that the virus accidentally entered the community.
“It should have been stopped in China. If we didn’t, the minimum we would have lost is one million, two million, four million, five. This is the minimum, “he said in a two-hour broadcast.
“And my opinion is that they made a mistake, they tried to cover it, they tried to put it out. It’s like a fire. You know, it’s really like trying to put out a fire. They couldn’t put out the fire. Fire. “
The Associated Press reported on Monday that Department of Homeland Security documents show that US officials believe China has covered the scope of the coronavirus epidemic and how contagious it could be in order to source in medical supplies.
NBC News has not independently verified this claim.
Last week, the White House asked intelligence agencies to verify whether China has withheld information about the coronavirus epidemic.
Trump has also responded to many concerns, including the reopening of schools, while urging states to accelerate the opening of the economy.
When asked if it was the right decision to impose a nationwide halt, Trump said, “We have done the right thing. I look back. Because my attitude was that we weren’t going to close it.
The president also promised that a vaccine would be available this year, contrary to the predictions of senior scientific advisers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We think we will have a vaccine by the end of this year,” said Trump. “By the end of the year, I think we’re going to have a vaccine. “
Trump added that he didn’t care if it was developed in the United States or elsewhere, he wanted it quickly.
Responding to a question from a business owner in Washington D.C., Trump pointed out that not all states would open at the same rate. “Some states are going to have to take a little longer to open and they are doing it,” he said. “Some states, I think frankly, are not moving fast enough. “
Commenting on the conflict between those who want to return to work and those who fear a second wave of infections, Trump said, “I think you can satisfy both … You can really have both.”
Trump also sought to allay fears about the reopening of schools causing future infections, but warned that elderly and vulnerable teachers may not be able to return to work.