President Trump extended federal coronavirus safety guidelines Tuesday after White House advisers and scientific modeling predicted up to 200,000 deaths in the United States.
Trump announced the extension of the guidelines until April 30 during a news conference, urging Americans to practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary travel, work from home, stay away from nursing homes and limit social gatherings to 10 people.
“Every citizen is being called upon to make sacrifices,” Trump said.
The principal coordinator on the coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, said on Monday the team would come to Tuesday’s briefing prepared to back up their recommendations and the President’s ultimate decision with data.
“We’ll go through all of the graphs and all of the information that we took to the President for the decision,” she said.
The picture could be stark. Birx has said their data show that even if the country executes social distancing measures “perfectly,” between 100,000 and 200,000 people could still die.
Those predictions don’t have universal support inside the White House. There remains a concern among some skeptics on Trump’s team that Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci have put stock in models that could be wrong.
Epidemiological models rely on assumptions and can’t, by their nature, always be 100% accurate. Much about the virus’s spread remains unknown, particularly with persistent problems on getting Americans tested.
Trump himself seemed preoccupied with another figure — 2.2 million — during Sunday’s briefing. An earlier study from the United Kingdom projected that number of potential American deaths if mitigation efforts weren’t taken seriously.
The U.S. had more than 180,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 3,600 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University data.