The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Friday that the U.S. is likely to top 100,000 coronavirus deaths by the start of June — citing a dozen forecasting models that make the grim prediction.
“CDC tracks 12 different forecasting models of possible #COVID19 deaths in the US. As of May 11, all forecast an increase in deaths in the coming weeks and a cumulative total exceeding 100,000 by June 1,” CDC Director Robert Redfield tweeted.
While the prediction is to an extent expected — the U.S. is already on 87,530 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University — it marks a grim milestone in the fight against the virus.
However, it is significantly lower than the 2 million deaths the White House was warned in January and February could result if precautions were not implemented.
But there has also been some skepticism about the way officials are reporting deaths. Some states count presumed coronavirus deaths along with confirmed cases under CDC guidance issued last month. Other states don’t count those deaths.
Deaths have been classified as a COVID-19 death even after a physician or loved ones reported otherwise. And those who died “with” COVID-19 have been included in the count with those who died “of” COVID-19.
“I think a lot of clinicians are putting that condition (COVID-19) on death certificates when it might not be accurate because they died with coronavirus and not of coronavirus,” Macomb County, Mich., Chief Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz in an interview with the Ann Arbor News last month.
Redfield’s prediction came as the White House ramps up efforts to reopen the country after the measures to stop the slow of the spread of the virus sent the economy into freefall — with the unemployment rate hitting 14.7 percent this month and expected to rise further.
President Trump on Friday announced “Operation Warp Speed” — a new initiative aimed at developing, manufacturing and distributing a “proven” vaccine.
Trump described the administration’s plan as “a massive scientific industrial and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project” of World War II, with the intent to rapidly develop and distribute a vaccine with help from the U.S. military and world-renowned doctors and scientists.
“We’d love to see if we can do it prior to the end of the year,” the president said. “We think we’re going to have some very good results coming out very quickly.”
Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report.