President Donald Trump doubled his coronavirus death rate estimate from two weeks ago, predicting the virus will take 100,000 lives as he pressed states to reopen.
According to The New York Times, last month Trump predicted coronavirus-related deaths could be kept “substantially below the 100,000” mark. However, Trump said the virus has proved more devastating than expected during a town hall with Fox News Sunday.
Despite that number, Trump made a push for states to reopen parks, beaches, some businesses, and in-person classes should resume by the fall.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people,” Trump said in a virtual “town hall” hosted by Fox News. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.” However, Trump credited himself with preventing the toll from being worse. “If we didn’t do it, the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, that’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher, it’s possible higher than 2.2 million.”
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. passed 67,000 on Sunday night, more deaths than the Vietnam War, and more than Trump predicted. Additionally, the model embraced by the White House a month ago assumed the death rate would begin to fall substantially by mid-April.
However, Trump pushed for lifting quarantine restrictions that have put more than 30 million citizens out of work. The president said Sunday the government has armed itself against the virus to be prepared to curb any additional outbreak.
“At some point we have to open our country,” the president said. “And people are going to be safe. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned about the tremendous contagion. But we have no choice. We can’t stay closed as a country. We’re not going to have a country left.”