Washington/New York, 1 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday predicted a “very, very painful” two weeks ahead as the White House formally unveiled models of the coronavirus outbreak that project between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths.
“This is a plague,” Trump said during a press conference, adding that there will be “some real light at the end of the tunnel.”
The model, displayed at a White House press conference, shows a steep reduction from the original projections of at least 1.5 million deaths thanks to measures taken to blunt the outbreak, including social-distancing.
Throughout the press conference Trump cast himself as taking essential early action to curb the outbreak, despite the president downplaying the crisis in February and early March.
“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Anthony Fauci, a top public health official, said of the projected death toll.
Fauci said that US still believes it can beat the projection with intensive mitigation efforts including social-distancing and shut downs, which have brought much of the economy to a standstill.
The governor of New York state on Tuesday said officials had “underestimated” the novel coronavirus and needed to prepare for the apex of the outbreak.
“I’m tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one,” Andrew Cuomo told a news briefing. “We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.”
Coronavirus cases surged to 75,795 in New York, while the death toll jumped nearly 30 per cent overnight to 1,550, Cuomo said, warning that the state was “still headed up the mountain.”
The new cases mean New York has surpassed China’s Hubei province which reported 67,801 cases since the virus emerged there in December, according to John Hopkins University data.
Nationally the US has over 186,000 confirmed cases and on Tuesday the US surpassed China’s reported deaths with over 3,800.
The New York governor also said his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, had tested positive for the virus.
“He’s going to be quarantined in his basement at home,” Cuomo said of his brother, after calling the virus a “great equalizer” that could affect anyone.
The governor said the health care system was “dealing with a war we’ve never dealt with before,” and that doctors and nurses were facing “immense physical and emotional stress.”
New York City, which is the epicentre of the US outbreak with about a quarter of the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases, is receiving outside reinforcements, according to the city’s mayor.
Bill de Blasio said 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, 2,000 nurses and 250 ambulances were being sent to the city to help its swamped health care system.
Speaking at a news conference at a makeshift hospital in a tennis centre, he said a record number of 911 calls have been reported in recent days.
The lights of New York City’s Empire State Building began shining red on Monday to honour “emergency workers on the front line of the fight” against the virus, according to a post from the iconic building’s Twitter account.
Other areas across the US are also seeing a big increase in coronavirus deaths, with the death toll in Louisiana spiking 29 per cent in a 24-hour period on Tuesday to reach 239 fatalities, according to the southern US state’s health department.
The overall confirmed cases number in the state also jumped 30 per cent and now stands at 5,237 positive cases.
California’s cases are nearing 7,000 with 57,400 tests still pending.