- Deaths tolls will be curbed dramatically if the shutdown continues. The White House is recommending social distancing continue until at least April 30.
- President Donald Trump had previously said he wanted to reopen parts of the economy by Easter, but the trove of data about deaths from the coronavirus made him change course.
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As many as 2 million lives could be saved if the US stays on course with its shutdown, according to a model that has been guiding the White House's planning about the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx , who is leading the Trump administration's efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, presented the data during a White House press briefing on Tuesday. The presentation showed that between 1.5 million and 2.2 million people would die without mitigation.
With mitigation having people stay in their homes, gathering only in groups of fewer than 10 people , and limiting travel deaths are projected at between 100,000 and 240,000.
"It's very much focused on the next two weeks and the stark reality of what this virus will do as it moves through communities," Birx said. She reportedly has used the model to help convince President Donald Trump to support the continued shutdown.
Birx then provided data from different states, saying it provides "great hope about what is possible." Washington state and California, in particular, appeared to have gotten control of cases through widespread testing and containment measures.
"We are really convinced that mitigation is going to be doing the trick for us," Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the presentation.
President Donald Trump initially wanted to open parts of the US by Easter , fearing the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders were causing severe damage to the economy. But the president's sentiments clashed with public health officials, who used the model presented Tuesday to persuade him to change course.
Trump has since walked back the Easter deadline and his administration is now calling for social distancing until at least April 30 .
"This is the time for all Americans to come together and do our part," Trump said at Tuesday's press briefing ahead of the presentation.
At least part of the data came from a model designed by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The analysis uses data from states, hospital groups, other countries, and the World Health Organization. It assumes that state and local officials will impose stay-at-home orders through May, including limiting travel, shuttering schools, and closing what they deem to be "non-essential" businesses. It warns deaths will rise in states that don't take at least three of these steps.
The U.S. has the highest known number of coronavirus cases in the world, with at least 175,000 people testing positive and at least 3,170 deaths. Other researchers have varying predictions ranging from 200,000 to 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by the end of the year.
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