President Donald Trump said Friday that the projected number of deaths related to the coronavirus will be "substantially under" early estimates that indicated 100,000 people in the U.S. could die from COVID-19
"The minimum number was 100,000 lives and I think we'll be substantially under that number," Trump said during a White House press conference. "Hard to believe that if you had 60,000, you can never be happy, but that's a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking."
Trump said early estimates indicated the U.S. could have 100,000 to 220,000 deaths from the coronavirus and up to 2.2 million if the U.S. didn't take any action to control the pandemic. He said states like New York have recently reported declining hospital admissions and nationwide the number of new cases is flattening, "substantially suggesting we're near the peak." He added that hard-hit cities like Detroit and New Orleans appear to be stabilizing.
"We'll see what it ends up being, but it looks like we're headed to a number substantially below the 100,000 that would be the low mark, and I hope that bears out," Trump said.
Trump said the U.S. is getting to the point where people can start considering doing elective surgeries or nonessential operations.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that a lot of improvements have been made in the New York City area, which for a time accounted for over half of the cases in the U.S. Birx said cases are still occurring in the Boston and Chicago areas, but their rate of increase in cases also seems to be stabilizing.
"What we're seeing is that we're united in social distancing and that should be encouraging to all of us and it should be encouraging to the health-care providers who are on the front line," Birx said. "It's really about the encouraging signs we see but as encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House health advisor, added that it's important to remember that this is not the time to pull back restrictions imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus. He also said that if governments begin to pull back restrictions too soon, there's a chance the virus could resurge and infect more people.
"We've been talking about the New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and other areas where they have really big spikes, but there are other parts of the country, in the middle parts of the country, where they're concerned to make sure they don't get those spikes," Fauci said.