Birx: US could see up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths if 'we do things almost perfectly'

 

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Monday warned that up to 200,000 people in the U.S. could die from the coronavirus outbreak if "we do things almost perfectly."

In an appearance on NBC's "Today," Birx stressed that the Trump administration remains "very worried" about every city in the United States and the possibility that the virus could get "out of control." She also noted that some metropolitan areas "were late in getting people to follow" social distancing requirements and that it had an effect on the virus's spread.

"If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx said after being asked about U.S. projections related to the outbreak. "We don’t even want to see that."

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She added that the administration's models show a worst-case scenario of between 1.6 million and 2.2 million deaths if the U.S. were to enforce zero restrictions on travel and gathering. 

Asked about whether 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the U.S. was a best-case scenario, Birx emphasized that a best-case scenario would be "100 percent of Americans doing precisely what is required."

"But we’re not sure based on the data ... that all of America is responding in a uniform way to protect one another," she added. "We have to factor that in."

The novel coronavirus, which first appeared in China in December, has infected more than 143,000 people in the U.S. and accounted for more than 2,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. 

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The outbreak has caused a mass closure of businesses and schools throughout the country as federal and state officials put in place restrictions designed to lessen the burden on health care systems experiencing a surge in patients. President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE announced on Sunday that federal guidelines urging Americans against nonessential travel and gatherings of more than 10 people would remain in effect through April.

The announcement came the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said that millions of people in the U.S. could contract the coronavirus. He also said that it could lead to 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, though cautioned that projections are subject to change given the outbreak is "such a moving target."