CDC Director Attributes Reduced Coronavirus Death Toll to Better-than-Expected Social Distancing Compliance

Zachary Evans

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield on Monday said the agency’s coronavirus death toll projections were lowered because more Americans were practicing social distancing than previously expected.

The CDC initially believed that roughly half of Americans “would pay attention to the recommendations” to enact social distancing, a prediction that influenced its death toll projections. Those projections were revised on Monday from 100,000-200,000 deaths to 50,000-140,000 deaths.

However, “what we’re seeing is a large majority of the American public are taking the social-distancing recommendations to heart,” Redfield said in an interview on AM 1030 KVOI Radio in Tucson, Ariz. “And I think that’s the direct consequence of why you’re seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.”

Redfield said that if Americans continue to practice social distancing according to CDC guidelines, “we will see this virus and this outbreak basically decline, decline, decline.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday morning concurred with Redfield’s remarks.

“I feel a lot more optimistic, again, because I’m seeing mitigation work,” Adams said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “I really do believe that we will come in under those projections as long as we can continue to do our part for 30 days.”

Last week President Trump and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force announced that the coronavirus death toll could reach 100,000-to-200,000 within several weeks in a “best case scenario.” Predictions regarding the scope and pace of the outbreak have fluctuated due to changing responses and the somewhat unknown nature of the coronavirus, which appeared for the first time in December in Wuhan, China.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has cautioned against believing the U.S. has the outbreak under control.

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