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White House Rejects Government Report Projecting Rising Coronavirus Death Toll

A health care worker looks on as people cheer to show their gratitude to medical staff outside NYU Langone Health hospital in New York City last month.
Angela Weiss
AFP via Getty Images
A health care worker looks on as people cheer to show their gratitude to medical staff outside NYU Langone Health hospital in New York City last month.

Editor's Note: For more on this government report, see this story.

The Trump administration on Monday pushed back against an internal government report, obtained by The New York Times, that predicts the daily coronavirus death toll could nearly double in the United States by early June.

The Times story cites an internal CDC update, acquired fromthe Federal Emergency Management Agency, that predicts the number of deaths per day from COVID-19 will reach about 3,000 by June 1.

More than 68,000 people in the United States have already died from the coronavirus pandemic, summarily eclipsing an earlier estimate of a total U.S. death toll of 60,000 lives lost from the virus.

"This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

The internal document obtained by the Times also suggests that by the end of the month, the country would likely experience 200,000 new cases a day, up from a current rate of about 25,000 a day.

"This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed. The president's phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. 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.

Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who reportedly created the model reported by the Times, told The Washington Post that the work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete.

The grim forecast comes after several states last week took steps to reopen their economies, despite some not meeting White House recommendations outlined to ease social distancing measures.

Trump himself this weekend said that the death toll could likely top 100,000, calling it a "horrible thing."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.