Trump dismisses new COVID-19 death forecast: 'It's time to go back to work'

As states around the country move toward opening businesses and easing restrictions on mobility, President Trump Tuesday dismissed concerns that the number of deaths from the coronavirus could nearly double in the next three months.

“We did everything right, but now it’s time to go back to work,” Trump said as he took questions before departing the White House for a trip to Arizona.

Reporters asked if he was concerned about models showing 134,000 deaths by August. The number was included in a projection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A separate projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Seattle Monday arrived at almost the same figure, 135,000, the midpoint of a range of 95,092 to 242,890.

“That assumes no mitigation, and we’re going to have mitigation,” said Trump.

But the IHME model “assumes that mandates that are currently in place will stay in place until infections are minimized,” according to the Institute. The new projection, representing a large increase from late March, “reflects rising mobility in most U.S. states as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus.”

Trump has encouraged the trend toward easing restrictions since late March when he originally set a goal of April 12 for returning to normality, before reversing himself after experts warned of a catastrophic resurgence of COVID-19 cases. While protests calling for restrictions to be lifted have garnered headlines and viral social media posts, polling shows a majority of Americans are still supportive of the restrictions.

“We’re doing mitigation ... but we have to get our country open. We have to open our country,” Trump said Tuesday.

According to tracking information from Johns Hopkins University, more than 69,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus so far. Public health experts believe the true number is likely far higher.

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The administration’s own guidelines call for gradually relaxing restrictions in states after going 14 consecutive days with fewer cases. But some states are reopening despite the number of daily cases going up.

Trump repeated his assertion from Sunday’s town hall event at the Lincoln Memorial that Democrats want Americans to die to make him look bad. He said that was why the administration was refusing to allow Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the coronavirus task force and head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, to testify before a House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response.

“Because the House is a setup. The House is a bunch of Trump haters,” said Trump. “They frankly want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means death. They should be ashamed of themselves. ... They want us to fail so they can win an election, which they’re not going to win.”

Last Friday, deputy press secretary Judd Deere told the Washington Post that Fauci didn’t have time to testify because he was busy fighting the virus.

Fauci is set to testify before Republican-controlled Senate on May 12.


Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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