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Trump: COVID-19 Is 'A Matter Of Life And Death, Frankly'

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Americans should brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the coronavirus pandemic, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Tuesday.

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist helping steer White House policy on the disaster. "No one is denying the fact that we are going through a very, very difficult time right now."

Fauci and another member of the task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, renewed their pleas for Americans to keep observing social distancing rules and other precautions to try to reduce the rate of infections and deaths.

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Birx said, however, that she is "reassured" by looking at what Los Angeles has accomplished with social distancing in terms of how other cities might be able to respond as well.

When asked about how the pandemic might affect people experiencing homelessness in California specifically, Trump used the opportunity to praise Gov. Gavin Newsom and take a swipe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I know that [the concern about COVID-19 and the homeless] bothers Gavin," he said. "I don't know if it bothers Nancy Pelosi, but she's got it, in her district, at a very high level."

Task force members used Tuesday's briefing to detail the metrics that informed their predictions. Birx showed reporters at the White House a chart that showed what she called a "blue mountain" of deaths hitting a peak of around 2.2 million — a projection of what could have taken place without any countermeasures.

Social distancing and other protocols cause that estimated curve to be shallower, which is why they're so essential, Birx said. She and Fauci said the models they've cited still were subject to change based on the ongoing response.

But she also warned that in the face of the "stark reality" of the coronavirus – and to keep that curve from going back up – Americans must continue to isolate and take the other precautionary measures.

Note: President Trump usually opens these news conferences with his own remarks. His comments in a number of past briefings have later been contradicted by information provided by other officials. He has also repeatedly used stigmatizing language to describe COVID-19. Following the president's remarks, health experts and other adminstration leaders provide additional updates.


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