The White House coronavirus task force on Tuesday issued a warning of what we could see in the coming weeks.
“The surge is coming, and it’s coming pretty strong,” the president said in the White House briefing room in a lengthy press conference that lasted more than two hours.
The task force reminded Americans that it is essential for them to follow the administration’s guidelines on social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. “It is absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines,” Trump said during the briefing. “It’s a matter of life and death.”
President Trump then suggested Americans should brace for “a very painful two weeks” ahead of what could be thousands more of virus-related deaths.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned that even if the U.S. were to continue to do what it was doing with major components of the economy closed and the majority of Americans stuck in their homes – the coronavirus could still leave 100,000 to 240,000 people in the United States dead and millions infected.
Without any measures in place to mitigate the contagion’s spread, those projections jump to between 1.5 and 2.2 million deaths from COVID-19.
The new “30 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines – unveiled at the press conference – are an extension of the strategy the White House implemented just over two weeks ago and include guidance on social distancing, working from home, washing hands frequently, and avoiding any unnecessary travel.
President Trump noted that this is a very easy topic to be negative about, but that he prefers to provide Americans with a positive outlook contrary to everything else the mainstream media shows us.
However, while he sought to reassure Americans that the country would ultimately get through the pandemic, he certainly did not sugarcoat the severity of the pandemic and said that the battle against the contagion will be worse in the upcoming weeks.
“This is going to be a rough two week period,” Trump said again. “As a nation we’re going to have a really rough two weeks. Our strength will be tested and our endurance will be tried.”
At another point, Trump said: “This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two or maybe even three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before.”
Referring to the projections in the model, Fauci said the federal government is working “very hard to bring that number down.” Birx added that the number of deaths could be blunted through proper medical care and social distancing.
“There’s no magic bullet, there’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors,” Birx said, adding that it would be those behaviors that could change “the course of the viral pandemic.”
“As sobering a number as that it is, we should be prepared for that,” Fauci said. “No one is denying that we are going through a very difficult time right now.”
The president also expressed his shock and sadness about the images of bodies being loaded into refrigerated trailers in his hometown of Queens, New York.
A surge in deaths in the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S. has overwhelmed the city’s permanent morgues and filled storage spaces in many hospitals to capacity. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 85 refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary morgues, the city said.
“I watched the doctors and nurses walking into the hospital [in Elmhurst, Queens] this morning and it is like military people going into battle, going into war. The bravery is incredible,” Trump said of medical workers in the neighborhood where he grew up. “If I were wearing a hat, I’d rip that hat off so fast and I would say, ‘You people are just incredible.'”