While dozens of states across the country begin easing lockdown restrictions, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by the New York Times paints a pessimistic picture about how the pandemic will progress over the next month.
According to the internal document from the CDC, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases is projected to increase from 25,000 per day now to 200,000 per day by June. In the same time period, the number of daily deaths is expected to increase from 1,750 to 3,000.
"There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow or are in an elevated incidence plateau, including in the Great Lakes region, parts of the Southeast, Northeast, and around Southern California," the document states.
The CDC reportedly disavowed the report, according to the Washington Post, even though its logo is on the slides. The creator of the model that produced the projections, Justin Lessler of Johns Hopkins, said it was an unfinished projection and that he didn't know how or why it was put into presentation form and distributed to the media.
The White House issued a statement distancing itself from the CDC document and its projections.
"This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting," White House spokesman Judd Deere said, according to Axios. "This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed. The president's phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. The health of the American people remains President Trump's top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions."
Trump's public predictions for the total number of deaths during this COVID-19 outbreak have varied significantly. After predicting a best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, the president later projected 50,000 deaths. Sunday night, however, he again said the death toll could reach 100,000.
The persistence of the coronavirus even in the face of widespread lockdowns, combined with economic pressure for governments to allow businesses to reopen, could lead to further rejection and protest of lockdown restrictions by individuals and business owners who question the effectiveness of the mitigation efforts of the past two months.