Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected that roughly 3,000 Americans will be dying daily in June from complications caused by the coronavirus, according to an internal document obtained and published by The New York Times on Monday.
During the same period, the leaked report predicts the number of confirmed cases will skyrocket from the current rate of about 25,000 per day to over 200,000 by next month. It also included a map that identifies areas experiencing an upswing in infections, which the agency expects to see a significant rise in both the spread of the virus and associated deaths.
The report produced shocking headlines — but as is often the case with unauthorized leaks, it isn’t particularly useful. NPR contacted the researcher behind the projections, who said that the work was “preliminary” and not intended for public release.
“It’s as if somebody looked over my shoulder when I was halfway through putting the work together and took a picture and put the results out there,” Justin Lessler told NPR.
White House pushes back on report
In response to the report, which contained CDC logos, the CDC said that the projections were not their numbers.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere downplayed its credibility. “This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting,” he said, according to Axios.
Deere went on to add that the “data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.”
Defending Trump’s “phased guidelines to open up America again,” he described the White House plan as rooted in science and supported by experts in the field. “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,” Deere said.
Trump remains optimistic
Though Trump himself acknowledged the death toll would be higher than the number earlier predicted, he maintained optimism.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people,” he said during a recent virtual town hall event, noting that the rate could have been many times higher had his administration not taken steps to control the pandemic.
Trump went on to say that a vaccine would likely be available ” much sooner rather than later,” stressing that he remains “very confident” that the end of this crisis is near.
With so many competing theories regarding how this new virus could impact our nation and the world, now is the time for a sober assessment based on logic and the best facts available. That is precisely the path that this White House maintains it continues to take.