Dr. Deborah Birx, the U.S. coronavirus response coordinator, on Monday said that if the American public almost uniformly practices proper social distancing and mitigation efforts, there could be 100,000 to 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S.
Dr. Birx said that in models based on the flu, the worst-case scenario would be between 1.6 million and 2.2 million deaths — a number President Trump had cited on Sunday when he announced federal social distancing guidelines would be extended until the end of April.
“That’s the projection if you do nothing,” Dr. Birx said on NBC’s “Today” program. “So we’ve never really done all of these things that we’re doing.”
She said they ran another model and looked at Italy’s efforts at self-isolation.
“And that’s where we come up with if we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities. We don’t even want to see that,” she said.
“The best-case scenario would be 100% of Americans doing precisely what is required, but we’re not sure based on the data that you’re sharing from around the world and seeing these pictures that all of America is responding in a uniform way to protect one another,” she said.
“So we also have to factor that in,” Dr. Birx continued. “Cities that don’t [practice] social distances, that don’t stay at home, that believe you can have social interactions, that believe you can have gatherings [at] homes of 20 and 10 people, even — that is going to spread the virus even if everyone looks well.”
A number of states and localities have adopted their own social distancing restrictions and shuttered nonessential businesses to try to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves issued an executive order last Tuesday declaring a wide range of businesses in the state as “essential,” though he later clarified that localities could go beyond the restrictions the state had announced.
The U.S. has more than 143,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,500 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.