The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines, the AP reports. Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans—eclipsing China's death toll as of Tuesday—and infected 170,000 more. "I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We're going to go through a very tough two weeks."
The comments came after Trump announced Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus. It was an abrupt reversal for Trump, who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans “pack the pews” for Easter Sunday services. During Tuesday's briefing he formally released the new 30-day guidelines. The projections presented during the briefing suggest that, if no social distancing measures had been put in place across the country, between 1.5 million to 2.2 million people would have died. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is helping to lead the US effort, says, "As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.” But he says he hopes it won’t soar so high. (You could say the daily White House briefings have gone viral.)