he United States on Wednesday passed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a grim figure that continues to rise as the disease continues its deadly march across the country.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, at least 100,047 Americans have died from COVID-19-related complications. Experts say the actual death toll is most certainly higher.
There have been more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus reported in the United States — far more than in any other country in the world. (According to Reuters, 20 U.S. states reported an increase in new coronavirus cases for the week that ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week.)
Meanwhile, there have been more than 5.5 million coronavirus cases and over 350,000 deaths worldwide.
In late March, members of the White House coronavirus task force projected between 100,000 and 200,000 American deaths if U.S. citizens practiced social distancing guidelines “almost perfectly.”
But President Trump, who for months sought to downplay the threat of the virus, suggested in April that the U.S. might still avoid a six-digit death toll.
“Now we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it,” Trump said on April 19. “But we would have had millions of deaths instead of — it looks like we’ll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.”
After the epidemiological model utilized by the White House — the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) — revised its U.S. death projection, Trump shifted the goalposts accordingly.
“So, yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people,” he said during a press briefing in the Rose Garden on April 29. “But if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we are probably heading to 60,000, to 70,000.”
The “original projections” Trump appeared to be referring to were from a British study that predicted more than 2 million U.S. deaths if no social distancing or other mitigation measures were implemented.
On Tuesday, Trump again sought to declare his response to the pandemic a success.
In a pair of misleading tweets, he again referred to the British model’s projection of up to 2 million American deaths and his decision to halt travel from Chinese nationals to the United States.
“For all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number,” the president tweeted. “That’s 15 to 20 times more than we will lose. I shut down entry from China very early!”
Trump issued an executive order in late January blocking entry to the United States from anyone who had been in China in the previous 14 days. The order, which went into effect Feb. 2, did not apply to U.S. residents or their family members. Some studies have concluded that the strain of the coronavirus that affected the majority of Americans actually came from Europe.
But the White House did not impose other restrictions, such as social distancing and a ban on
most “nonessential” international travel, until March 16.
“One person lost to this invisible virus is too much, it should have been stopped at its source, China,” Trump added on Tuesday, “but I acted very quickly, and made the right decisions.”