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An internal Trump administration document predicted that the US's daily coronavirus death toll would almost double over the next month, even as the president has encouraged states to return to business as usual, The New York Times first reported on Monday.
The administration expects daily deaths to increase to about 3,000 by June 1 from about 1,750 now, The Times said.
The White House rejected the data, telling Insider in a statement that "this data is not reflective of any of the modeling done" by its coronavirus task force "or data that the task force has analyzed."
The draft models were created by Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and presented to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Washington Post reported.
Lessler told The Post that "this data was presented as an FYI to CDC," adding that "it was not in any way intended to be a forecast." But he said it was possible that the US could reach 100,000 new infections per day by the end of May, depending on how states continue to reopen.
An internal Trump administration document predicted that the US's daily coronavirus death toll would nearly double over the next month, even as the president has encouraged states to return to business as usual, The New York Times first reported on Monday.
Daily deaths are expected to grow to about 3,000 by June 1 from about 1,750 now, according to the document, copies of which were obtained by The Times and The Washington Post.
The draft models, presented in a Federal Emergency Management Agency slide deck, also predicted that the number of new infections per day would jump to 200,000 from 25,000 — an eightfold increase — by June 1.
Slides containing the projections reportedly showed the logos of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The CDC and the White House distanced themselves from the models, which were created by Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and presented to the CDC, The Post reported.
"This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting," Judd Deere, a White House deputy press secretary, told Insider in a statement. "This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed."
He added: "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. The health of the American people remains President Trump's top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions."
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany lashed out at the media for reporting on the leaked modeling in a statement on Tuesday.
"The Johns Hopkins' study being pushed around by the media as factual is based on faulty assumptions and is in no way representative of any federal government projections," McEnany said.
Johns Hopkins released a statement on Tuesday explaining that the models were "preliminary analyses" that weren't designed to be used as "forecasts," but instead "to aid in scenario planning."
It went on, "The information illustrates that there are some scenarios, including the premature relaxation of social distancing, that are likely to cause significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States."
Lessler told The Post he wasn't involved in creating the slide deck or disseminating the draft projections to other government agencies.
"This data was presented as an FYI to CDC," Lessler said, adding that "it was not in any way intended to be a forecast."
But Lessler said it was possible that the US could reach 100,000 new infections per day by the end of May, depending on how states continue to reopen.
The numbers illustrate that reopening the country's economy is likely to make the virus' spread much worse.
Some states have begun to relax lockdown measures, allowing many businesses and workers to return to life as normal. But in many cases, infection rates have increased even as the states have reopened. While urban areas like New York City have experienced large numbers of infections, rural areas have been hit with massive outbreaks in places like prisons and meat-processing plants.
What's also clear is that the US isn't experiencing the declines in infection and death rates that the government expected to see as a result of the widespread lockdowns.
Scott Gottlieb, the Trump administration's former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, conceded during a CBS News interview on Sunday that efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus "didn't work as well as we expected."
President Donald Trump told Fox News on Sunday that as many as 100,000 people in the US would die from the virus.
That estimate was a large increase from the numbers the president mentioned just a few weeks ago, but not as many as in Lessler's draft models. On April 20, Trump told reporters that about 60,000 people would die.
As of Monday, the US's death toll stood at over 68,000 people, with 1.2 million people infected. There is a widespread belief among experts that both the infection total and the death toll are much higher than the confirmed numbers.
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