On Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned that the United States could be facing a difficult few weeks ahead as his coronavirus task force experts warned deaths from the virus could reach as high as 240,000.
As HuffPost reports, the president urged Americans to take the pandemic seriously and work hard to limit the spread of the disease.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” he said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”
He urged people to treat limiting the spread of the disease as “a matter of life and death.”
At Tuesday’s coronavirus press conference, NBC News reports that Trump cautioned the next several weeks could be something “like we’ve never seen before.”
“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before,” he warned.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, spoke about the White House’s prediction that there could be anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Initially, the government said that millions could die, but social distancing and other efforts have helped to dramatically lower projections.
She said she believed that if Americans take the spread of COVID-19 seriously, the numbers could be even lower than the current projections.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, another member of the task force and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on the prediction. He said while that figure could be a worst-case scenario, he believed that — with the right efforts — the number could be lowered.
“We want to do much better than that,” he said.
As a result of the dire figures, the White House recently announced that it would extend guidelines for social distancing measures until the end of April. Trump had originally said he’d like to see the country “open” by Easter, but after consulting with experts, it was determined that the date for loosening the recommendations would need to be pushed back.
The stock market dropped dramatically on Wednesday following Trump’s prediction of a rough few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 700 points and the S&P slipped 3 percent. This quarter has been one of the worst in stock market history, with the S&P reporting its worst first quarter since 1938. The Dow had its worst first quarter in its history.