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‘Matter of life & death’: Trump’s Covid-19 task force projects up to 240,000 Americans will die even under strict social isolation

Senior members of the White House Covid-19 task force said Americans should prepare for at least 100,000 deaths from the pandemic, as the US president warned that following distancing guidelines was now a matter of life and death.

“The answer is yes,” said Dr Anthony Fauci of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when asked at a White House press conference on Tuesday if the US could really see between 100,000 and 240,000 fatalities in the outbreak. He added that he “hoped” containment measures could reduce the number.

Without the drastic social distancing efforts over the next 30 days – which are already underway in a number of states – the team projected up to 2.2 million fatalities.

Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator for the White House response team, noted that the models used by the task force were based on extending the data from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – among the country’s hardest-hit areas – applying to other states facing similarly severe outbreaks.

US President Donald Trump, noting that the next two weeks would be difficult as cases and deaths soar across the country, stressed the need for all Americans to follow social distancing guidance to stem the spread of the illness.

Dr. Fauci said the mitigation efforts in place were already paying off, and urged Americans to not be discouraged by the rapidly climbing number of cases. He added that “we are seeing little inklings” that the outbreak was beginning to slow down in New York, the country’s major hot spot with over 75,000 infections and some 1,550 deaths.

Though the president extended social distancing guidelines – initially set for 15 days – to the end of April on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence dismissed the idea of a nationwide lockdown akin to measures imposed in France and Italy, stating that the task force had “reasons to believe” the current containment strategy was “working.”

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