The White House distanced itself from a bleak administration forecast published on Monday by the suggesting that the coronavirus death toll will increase to about 3,000 a day by early June.
The projection, based on modeling collated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecasts the number of deaths will almost double from the current level of about 1,750 at a time when President Trump is encouraging states to lift social distancing restrictions.
It also forecasts about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, a huge increase from about 25,000 cases now.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said the data did not reflect the models analyzed by the president’s team.
“This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting,” he said. “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,” Deere said.
The United States has reported more than 1 million cases of the COVID-19 virus and more than 68,000 deaths.
Trump has frequently presented an optimistic outlook, talking up potential treatments and playing down the threat to the public, but on Sunday night, he admitted the toll could climb higher.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,0000 to 100,000 people. That’s a horrible thing,” Trump told Fox News.
The dire new forecast came as more local leaders relaxed restrictions on residents and businesses. Governors in California and Michigan are coming under public pressure to lift lockdowns while the likes of Florida, Georgia, and Ohio begin the process of rebuilding.
However, many public health experts warn that the number of cases will surge without a readily available vaccine.