Donald Trump is upping his prediction for how many Americans may die from the coronavirus. On Sunday, he said that as many as 100,000 lives could be lost to the virus before the outbreak is over — nearly double what was predicted just a few weeks ago.
Trump addressed the outbreak during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. After making a series of previous predictions about a smaller number of dead, Trump gave a much higher number on Sunday.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75-, 80- to 100,000 people,” Trump said, via The Hill. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this. This should’ve been stopped in China.”
As the report noted, Trump framed the deaths as a potential positive given the initial models for the spread of the coronavirus predicting that millions could die without strong intervention. After reportedly spending weeks at the start of the outbreak downplaying the severity of the virus and predicting that cases would soon go down to zero, Trump has taken a more aggressive approach in placing stay-at-home recommendations and outlining a series of guidelines for when states could begin to ease their own restrictions.
In the town hall on Sunday, Trump gave credit to the American people for abiding by social distancing guidelines.
“I really think the public has been incredible… that’s one of the reasons we’re successful,” Trump said. “If you call losing 80- or 90,000 people successful. But it’s one of the reasons that we’re not at the high end of the plane, as opposed to the low end of the plane.”
Trump also took aim at China in the interview, repeating criticism that the country did not take proper steps to contain the initial outbreak. Trump has also floated ideas that the virus may have originated in a Chinese lab.
As CNN noted, Trump’s new and increased prediction appears more in line with estimates from the experts on the White House coronavirus task force. Earlier on Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx said that the federal government’s projection has always estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 lives would be lost to the coronavirus, and that is factoring in full mitigation efforts.
But Trump had frequently predicted much smaller numbers, including two weeks ago when he said that between 50,000 and 60,000 people were expected to die within the United States.
“Now we’re going toward 50 — I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it,” he said at the April press briefing, noting that the lower end of the projections once predicted that 100,000 people would die.
The total death toll from the coronavirus topped 68,000 late on Sunday.