In a Friday afternoon briefing at the White House, the president said the figure will be “substantially under” the 100,000 to 200,000 deaths that were publicly projected several weeks ago.
“The minimum number was 100,000 lives and I think we’ll be substantially under that number,” Trump said, without giving a timetable. “Hard to believe that if you had 60,000, you can never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking.”
Previous estimates, which were based on models, said that between 100,000 people and 2.2 million people would die during the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
But states such as New York have recently reported declining hospital admissions, while the number of new cases has been flattening. Trump said it suggests that the United States is near its pandemic peak.
Meanwhile, other hard-hit cities like Detroit and New Orleans appear to be stabilizing, Trump remarked. It means that in some places, elective surgeries or nonessential hospital procedures could be considered soon, he added.
“We’ll see what it ends up being, but it looks like we’re headed to a number substantially below the 100,000 that would be the low mark, and I hope that bears out,” Trump said.
White House pandemic task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said New York City, which is the virus epicenter, has shown a significant amount of improvement. Cases are still occurring in places such as Chicago and Boston, but the rate of infections is flatlining.
Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have previously floated the idea that Easter Sunday or the start of May could be the time for the United States to reopen its economy.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, also a member of the White House task force, cautioned that the United States should not pull back on the social distancing measures.
“It’s important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all,” Fauci remarked.