Senior US scientist Dr Anthony Fauci issued a cautious prediction Sunday that the novel coronavirus could claim as many as 200,000 lives in the United States, as state and local officials described increasingly desperate shortages in hard-pressed hospitals.
And with stress, uncertainty and exhaustion rising across the country, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi squarely blamed President Donald Trump for unnecessary loss of life by initially playing down the pandemic. “His denial at the beginning was deadly,” she told CNN’s State of the Union. She added, “Don’t fiddle while people die, Mr President.”
Dr Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, played down worst-case predictions of one million or more deaths, instead offering a rough estimate of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and “millions of cases.”
But Fauci, a leading member of Trump’s coronavirus task force and for many Americans a comforting voice of authority, quickly added, “I don’t want to be held to that … It’s such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people.”
By way of comparison, a US flu epidemic in 2018-19 killed 34,000 people. COVID-19 has hit the US with explosive force in recent weeks, following a path seen earlier in parts of Asia and Europe.
It took a month for the US to move from its first confirmed death, on February 29, to its 1,000th. But in two days this week that number doubled, to nearly 2,200 on Sunday. The case total of 124,763 — as tallied by Johns Hopkins University – is the world’s highest.
“This is the way pandemics work, and that’s why we all are deeply concerned and why we have been raising the alert,” Dr Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House task force, said Sunday on NBC. “No state, no metro area will be spared.” CONTINUE READING HERE