America under attack.

America under attack.

In worst scenario, 200,000 Americans could die from Covid-19: White House

If we can hold that down to 100,000, we've done a very good job: Trump

Agency Report | New York/Washington | 30 March, 2020 | 11:10 PM

Sending out a dire warning, the White House projects America's peak death toll from the novel coronavirus to be likely in two weeks coinciding with Easter weekend and in a worst-case scenario, a total of 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could eventually succumb to the disease

“It’s possible. It’s entirely possible that would happen if we don’t mitigate. What we’re trying to do is to not let that happen,” America’s top infectious diseases doctor, Anthony Fauci said at a White House briefing in the Rose Garden on Sunday.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, explained that the model which is predicting the 100,000-200,000 death toll number assumes that social distancing was happening at scale.

“In the model, there’s a large confidence interval. In that model, they make the full assumption that we continue doing everything that we are doing and even better. We are hoping that the models aren’t completely right,” Birx said.

At the same time, Fauci urged Americans not to get “overly anxious” about the extremes of the models.

“Models are as good as the assumptions you put into it,” he added.

President Donald Trump said that the grim numbers come from the “most accurate” study so far which landed on his desk on Sunday.

Trump said that “2.2 million people would have died if we did not do the social distancing and all that”.

“If we could hold that down to a 100,000 – it’s a horrible number – we’ve done a very good job.”

Trump announced that he was extending the nationwide social distancing guidelines currently in place till April 30.

Seeking to reassure Americans, Trump said: “By June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 2,5506 people have died due to the disease in the country, of which 776 were recorded in New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US.

The state has also accounted for over 59,000 of the confirmed cases, the data revealed.

By now, at least 1 in three Americans are under some form of a government order to stay home and slow the spread of the virus.

Schools have shut, businesses are operating with bare minimum staff and America’s neighbourhoods are enveloped in an otherworldly kind of silence.

The initial “15 days to slow the spread” guidelines issued by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were announced on March 16.

The guidelines are voluntary and many states which have emerged as COVID-19 hotspots have implemented stricter rules for locals.

Last week, Trump had announced the “reopening” of the US economy by Easter Sunday which falls on April 12.

Medical professionals, however, reacted with alarm, warning that this timeline would be too soon.

Trump backtracked this weekend on a threat to quarantine New York and neighbouring states while the CDC issued a travel advisory urging residents of New York City, New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid all nonessential travel for 14 days.

In New York, which remains the epicentre of the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo is saying that virus is spreading “like fire through dry grass”.

The White House task force has already warned that the effects of mitigation efforts and social distancing won’t be seen at least until the end of the coming week.

As Americans hunker down, Fauci has struck a cautiously upbeat tone saying he feels “confident” with all the knowledge now available on the virus.

“We will have some sort of therapy, that gives at least a partial if not very good protection in preventing progression of the disease,” he said.

Randomised control trials are how the US is planning to get the best drug as quickly and safely as possible to the people.

As the White House task force gets more data from domestic cases, Birx noted that “we’re seeing things here that weren’t reported from other places”.
In a surprise move US President Donald Trump has extended the federal anti-coronavirus guidelines till the end of April after receiving grim projections from medical experts about the likely toll of the pandemic.

As the number of confirmed cases in the US reached 139,675 on Sunday evening, Trump announced at the White House that instead of relaxing soon the guidelines social distancing at their core, he would continue them.

As they are only guidelines, it is up to the state and local governments to enforce them under the US federal system. They were set to expire on Tuesday.

Trump said that he expected a full recovery by June 1, while cautioning that it could be earlier or sooner depending on how the pandemic is controlled.

The need for social distancing under the guidelines has resulted in the shutdown of all non-essential parts of the economy plunging the US into a recession, a price it will have to pay to save lives.

About half the US population is under semi-lockdown known as Stay-at-Home orders imposed by 27 of the 50 states.

Trump had earlier discussed relaxing the guidelines on Easter, which falls on April 12, to restart the economy, but said on Sunday that had only been “aspirational” and now only expected the deaths from COVID-19 to peak around that date.

He said, “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all.”

Earlier, the top White House expert on COVID-19, Anthony Fauci, said on CNN that the US could see one million cases and 100,000 deaths from the disease based on models of how the infection could spread.

Discussing the models projecting the number of deaths, he said, “Looking at what we’re seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000. But I don’t want to be held to that.”

Before Trump’s announcement of guidelines extension, Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of being in denial and underestimating the gravity of the situation.

“Don’t fiddle while people die, Mr President,” she said on CNN.

She said that Trump’s denial of the severity of the pandemic at its start “was deadly” and “we cannot continue to allow him to continue to make these underestimates of what is actually happening here.”

Trump countered these accusations by saying that he imposed restrictions on travellers from China on January 31, and on 26 European countries on March 11, which was extended to two more.

Some Democratic Party leaders like former Vice President Joe Biden had criticised the travel restrictions.

At his news conference, Trump referred to worst-case scenario projections of two million deaths if no precautions had been taken and asserted that the actions taken by him had forestalled that eventuality.

Trump spoke of the cooperation with the private sector in ramping up production of essential medical equipment like ventilators and supplies like masks.

Because of the systematic deindustrialisation of the US under previous administrations, the country facing difficulties in meeting its needs in a medical emergency.

He said that the 51 aircraft would be flying in supplies from around the world to meet the needs of the hospital facing dire shortages.

The first plane landed with supplies from China.

With the extension of the guidelines, the US will need more rounds of economic relief packages, beyond the $2 trillion programmes enacted last week with direct payments to people, an extension of unemployment benefits, additional medical care and loans to business.

Both Trump and Pelosi agreed on this.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 2,5506 people have died due to the disease in the country, of which 776 were recorded in New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, reports Xinhua news agency.

The state has also accounted for over 59,000 of the confirmed cases, the data revealed.

Speaking at a White House press briefing on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that the national social distancing guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus will be extended to April 30.

“On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people,” Trump said.

The President also said “modelling suggests” that the peak of the COVID-19 mortality rate in the US “is likely to hit in two weeks”, adding that he hopes the nation will be on its way to recovery by June 1.

Also speaking at the White House briefing, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that it was “entirely conceivable” that more than 1 million people in the nation could be infected with the coronavirus, and 100,000 deaths were possible.

“The number I gave out is, you know, based on modelling,” he told reporters. “What we’re trying to do is not to let that happen.”

The social distancing guidelines, originally designed to last 15 days and due to expire Tuesday if not extended, advises Americans to avoid non-essential travel, prevent gatherings of 10 people or more, and the elderly to stay at home, among other steps.

Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, called the extension a “prudent, public health-minded, courageous decision”.

“April will be a hard month,” Gottlieb said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

“We need to stick with measures until we see a sustained decline in cases.”

According to the CSSE update, the global number of coronavirus cases including the US, now stood at 142,502, with 33,997 deaths.

Italy currently has the highest number of deaths at 10,779. (IANS)