Fauci: US death toll 'looks more like 60,000' than 100-200K estimate

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump breaks with Fauci: US in 'good place' in fight against virus Health care group launches M ad campaign hitting Trump in battleground states Overnight Health Care: Trump says White House will pressure governors to open schools | Administration formally moves to withdraw US from WHO | Fauci warns against 'false complacency' on COVID-19 MORE, a leading member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, said Thursday he thinks the U.S. death toll from the virus could be much lower than the 100,000 to 200,000 first estimated by the White House.

Fauci said on NBC's "Today" show that given widespread mitigation efforts, the death toll will likely be closer to 60,000 as the U.S. now has more data about the growth and spread of the virus throughout the country.

"I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000 [range] than the 100,000 to 200,000," Fauci said.

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Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, credited social distancing practices being implemented across the country for helping reduce the spread of the virus and in turn help lower models for the estimated number of deaths.

"I think the American public have done a really terrific job just buckling down and doing those physical separations and adhering to those guidelines. ... Models are really only as good as the assumptions that you put into the model," he said.

Fauci had said Wednesday that newer data suggested the number of deaths would be "downgraded," while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said it expects the number of deaths to be “much lower” than what early models predicted.

The White House has been closely monitoring a model from the University of Washington, which estimates total deaths across the country from COVID-19 to be around 60,000 by August.

Initial projections for the death toll of the coronavirus were reported to be around 100,000 to 240,000 total deaths by the apex of the virus' spread.

Fauci added that data being reported around the country shows the positive effect social distancing has had on the number of cases in hot spots.

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He said that Americans should "still put their foot on the accelerator" when it comes to physical separations, warning it's still too early for the nation to let its guard down and resume regular schedules without proper adherence to health and safety guidelines.

On Wednesday, the CDC updated old guidelines that previously instructed workers to stay at home for 14 if they were exposed to someone who had the coronavirus.

Under the new guidelines, essential workers who have been exposed may return to work as long as they are asymptomatic and take precautions such as monitoring their temperature, wearing a face mask at all times and practicing social distancing at work as much as possible.