Bleak count: the number of US viruses USA Beat Trump's 60,000 score

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Donald Trump likes to talk about the best, the best, what no one has seen.

Now he is trying to make a virtue of a smaller number, arguing that his administration's efforts have prevented a much higher death toll than would otherwise have been seen.

But the number of deaths reported in the United States on Wednesday exceeded 60,000, a figure Trump suggested in recent weeks could be the total death count. He cited the estimate as a sign of relative success after the White House previously warned that the United States could suffer 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.

I don't think anybody has done a better job, with evidence, with fans, with all the things we've done, Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. And our death totals, numbers per million people, are really very, very strong. We are very proud of the work we have done.

Trump has also repeatedly used the outer band of any estimate, the potential that 2.2 million Americans could have died if there had been no intervention, to try to make his case more powerful.

The death toll in the United States from COVID-19 will surely continue to grow from here.

And, like the unemployment rate, the numbers will also be revised _ and probably on the rise, due to a lack of reports. The focus on death counts also overlooks other important markers, such as immunity levels and infection rates.

All of this data is like a giant puzzle you're putting together, said Dr. Howard Markel, director of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine. The death toll is just one of them. ''

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania He said it is simplistic for Trump or other public officials to focus on the death toll, as it is incomplete. Cases not initially classified as COVID-19 could be added at a later date.

The problem is that you look at the number on your TV screen and the number seems real, he said. What you don't have is that that number must have an asterisk next to it.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House task force, revealed on March 29 models that project the deaths of 100.00-240,000 Americans, assuming that social distancing efforts are ongoing. At the same time, he said epidemiological models had initially predicted the worst-case scenario of 1.5 million to 2.2 million deaths in the United States without mitigation efforts such as social distancing, hand washing, and staying home as much as possible.

Soon after, Trump began to speculate that the 100,000 figure was an external limit. Later, it leaned further toward a projection of 60,000.

The minimum number was 100,000 lives, and I think we will be substantially below that number, he said April 10. It's hard to believe that if I were 60,000 I could never be happy, but that's much less than we were. originally said and thinking. ''

Trump moderates his remarks by saying that even one death is too much, but he also seems relieved at the notion of a 60,000 figure. That's more in a matter of months than the 58,220 US military deaths during the Vietnam War but well below the 675,000 deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic that Trump often cites.

Trump has used 2.2. Millions of deaths indicate that he saved millions of lives through leadership that he and other administration officials say was `` decisive. '' Their actions have been questioned by state, local, and public health officials who have complained about a shortage of test supplies and safety equipment for doctors and nurses.

Trump often cites restricting travel from China, where the virus originated, and from Europe, where it took hold before exploding in the United States, as one of his most important first steps.

`` We did the right thing, because if we didn't, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe 2 million people dead, '' the president said on April 20.

`` Now, we are going to 50, I hear, or 60,000 people, '' he continued. `` One is too much. I always say One is too much.But we are going to 50 or 60,000 people. ''

Trump offered a revised estimate Monday when asked if he deserved a second term with a death toll akin to the American lives lost in Vietnam.

`` Yes, we have lost a lot of people, '' he said at the Rose Garden. But if you look at the original projections, 2.2 million, we're probably heading to 60,000, 70,000. It's too much. One person is too much for this.

Calvin Jillson, a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University , Contrasted Trump's public talk of death counts to the reluctance of administration and military officials to discuss Vietnam War body counts.

Jillson said Trump doesn't realize that the numbers will always `` turn negative sometime '' and that the way he talks about the death count suggests a lack of empathy.

`` It highlights how infrequently you will speak about these numbers as people, as loved ones, as American compatriots, as people who are no longer with us, '' Jillson said. `` That is natural for a politician whose action in commerce is to feel the public and empathize with them. ''

The White House had resisted any public announcement of a possible death toll until Birx and other experts revealed their own model of the anticipated cost to the nation, with and without social distancing measures.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began publishing projections of the number of anticipated deaths from coronavirus in the United States from seven different research teams.

Teams use different types of data and make different assumptions, including about the effects of social distancing, the use of facial covering, and other measures. The most recent summary showed that modelers predicted a cumulative number of American deaths from 50,000 to 100,000 in mid-May.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield declined to predict the death toll during an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.

`` I use models to try to predict the impact of different interventions. That's really what's important, '' said Redfield.

comments