Story at a glance

  • “We’re definitely going to be somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000,” Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
  • Gottlieb said whether the death toll is closer to 200,000 or 300,000 depends on how the country continues to respond to the health crisis.
  • Last week, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected there will be 295,011 coronavirus-related deaths by Dec. 1.

The former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned on Sunday that the U.S. could have as many as 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year as the number of cases continues to climb. 

“We’re definitely going to be somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000,” Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”


America is changing FASTER THAN EVER. Add Changing America to your Facebook and Twitter feeds to stay engaged on the latest news and smartest insights.


Gottlieb said whether the death toll is closer to 200,000 or 300,000 depends on how the country continues to respond to the health crisis. He said there have been two waves of the virus in the U.S., the first occurring in New York and second in the Sun Belt, but he predicts the country will likely see a third wave. 

“The concern now is that this has become so pervasive across the country that it could start to infect more rural communities that have largely been untouched to date and probably are a little bit more complacent because they have been untouched, but are still very vulnerable because the infection hasn’t been there,” Gottlieb said. 

“If this does become more pervasive across the country and it’s not just in the urban centers, but also in the more rural parts of the country, that’s going to be far more difficult to control if it’s more widespread. And we’re seeing indications of that right now,” he said. 

The prediction comes after White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx warned the pandemic has entered a “new phase” in the U.S. and is becoming more widespread in rural areas that missed earlier waves. 

Last week, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected there will be 295,011 coronavirus-related deaths by Dec.1, roughly 132,000 more than the current U.S. tally of nearly 163,000.  

The IHME estimate, however, says that if 95 percent of people in the U.S. wear masks or face coverings while in public the total number of projected deaths could drop by more than 66,000. 

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 5 million on Sunday morning. More than 1 million cases have been reported in the past 17 days alone, and the tally has doubled since late June. 

Published on Aug 10, 2020