Politics

Coronavirus deaths projected to hit 3,000 per day by June, internal Trump administration analysis says

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Key Points
  • The Trump administration projects that the number of coronavirus deaths will increase to about 3,000 each day by early June.
  • The interagency report from the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services also reportedly forecasts that the U.S. will see about 200,000 new Covid-19 cases each day by the end of the month, a significant rise from the current rate.
  • White House spokesman Judd Deere said: "This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting. This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed."
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An analysis prepared by several Trump administration departments projects that the number of coronavirus deaths will increase to about 3,000 each day by early June.

The interagency report from the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, also reportedly forecasts that the U.S. will see about 200,000 new Covid-19 cases each day by the end of this month.

The sobering projections come as President Donald Trump has pushed to start reopening the country, and expressed support for protesters against state restrictions on businesses and social gatherings in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

A DHS chart showing projected deaths per cday on May 4th, 2020.
Source: DHS

After the The New York Times first reported on the internal report, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, "This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting."

"This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed," Deere said.

"The President's phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. The health of the American people remains President Trump's top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions."

The Washington Post reported Monday that the creator of the model cited in the report, Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that the numbers in the report are uncompleted projections shown to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a work in progress.

"I had no role in the process by which that was presented and shown. This data was presented as an FYI to CDC … it was not in any way intended to be a forecast," Lessler told the newspaper.

But The Post reported that Lessler also said that the numbers show the risk of accelerating the rate of Covid-19 cases if U.S. begin reopening.

Lessler said that seeing 100,000 cases per day by the end of the May is possible.

Lessler did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the reports.

Trump, during an interview with Fox News on Sunday, said that the U.S. death toll from the pandemic could reach 100,000.

But he also said, "I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches" if "you stay away a certain amount."

Less than a month earlier, Trump had said that the country will see "substantially" fewer than 100,000 dead from the disease.

Federal agencies such as the CDC, which is part of HHS, use multiple models for projecting the number of cases and deaths the U.S. is likely to experience. Those projections can change significantly, and some models, such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's model, have been criticized as unreliable.

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The DHS and the CDC did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment on the Times' report.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC earlier Monday that the U.S. has plateaued at about 30,000 new cases a day and 2,000 new deaths a day. 

Gottlieb said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation" that the strict social distancing policies implemented by governors "didn't work as well as we expected" in slowing the spread of the disease.

"We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we're just not seeing that," he said.

While some coronavirus hot spots such as New York share encouraging signs that the virus is on the decline, other parts of the country are seeing a rise in new cases. Gottlieb said new cases are increasing in about 20 states.

At least 67,686 Covid-19 deaths have been confirmed in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.1 million cases of the disease have been confirmed, Johns Hopkins reports.

The Times' report came as more state and local leaders start to relax the restrictions put on residents and businesses.

Trump has encouraged governors to "reopen" their states and restart the economy, which has virtually ground to a halt amid efforts to prevent transmission of the disease.

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