Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the previously announced best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 COVID-19 deaths was probably an overestimate, The Hill reported.
Context: On March 31, President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force announced that, with social distancing measures in place, the best outcome for the United States would be for 100,000 to 240,000 Americans to die during this wave of COVID-19.
If we didn't do anything, they said at that time, as many as 2.2 million people could die.
Pulling it back? It didn't take long after that estimate, which was alarming to many, for some of the more prominent projection models to revise their estimates downward. Fewer cases, fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths. TheBlaze's Phil Shiver covered this in more detail here.
Even in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, hospitalizations have been decreasing more quickly than expected, earlier than two weeks after shelter-in-place orders were fully implemented in the state.
Fauci changes his tune: "Although one of the original models projected 100- to 200,000 deaths, as we're getting more data and seeing the positive effect of mitigation, those numbers are going to be downgraded," Fauci said Wednesday on Fox News. "I don't know exactly what the numbers are going to be, but right now it looks like it's going to be less than the original projection."
One popular model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now projects 60,000 deaths.
Still Fauci doesn't want people to relax on social distancing just because things might not end up as bad as initially thought.
"We're going to start to see the beginning of a turnaround, so we need to keep pushing on the mitigation strategies because there's no doubt that that's having a positive impact," Fauci said. "Now's not the time to pull back at all. It's a time to intensify."