President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus cases, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the U.S. is facing a “very, very painful two weeks.” “This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday. White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks. “When you look at night, the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.”
The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country across the globe with 184,000 confirmed infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New York has now become the new epicenter of the outbreak in the world with 75,795 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning, more reported infections than China’s Hubei province where the coronavirus emerged in December.
Trump, who grew up near New York City’s Elmhurst hospital in Queens, said no one can believe officials are setting up refrigerator trucks as temporary mortuaries outside the hospital. Trump said New York “got a late start” in rolling out its mitigation efforts. There are very few fatalities among young people in the U.S., Birx said, citing similar results in Italy and elsewhere in the world. People with underlying conditions are also at greater risk of death, scientists say.
Earlier Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data showing that people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease or those who smoke may be at increased risk of developing severe complications, even death, if they get infected with the coronavirus. The death projections “are very sobering, and when you see 100,000 people, and that’s a minimum,” Trump said. “A hundred thousand is, according to modeling, a very low number.” The death toll would be even higher without any mitigation measures with some estimates as high as 2.2 million fatalities, Trump said.