Dr. Birx: U.S. faces up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths even if we do everything 'almost perfectly'

Deborah Brix.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A member of President Trump's coronavirus task force says the United States could see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths amid the pandemic — even in a best case scenario.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force's response coordinator, spoke to Today on Monday and said that the U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus could fall in this range assuming social distancing guidelines are strictly adhered to throughout the country.

"If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx said.

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Today host Savannah Guthrie, who had asked whether these numbers represented a worst case scenario, was clearly taken aback by this assessment. "You kind of take my breath away with that," said Guthrie.

Birx explained that a "best case scenario" for the United States would involve every American "doing precisely what is required" of them based on health officials' guidelines, but she said the White House is unsure "that all of America is responding in a uniform way to protect one another, so we also have to factor that in."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had said on Sunday that the U.S. might be looking at between 100,000 and 200,000 coronavirus deaths, though he added, "I just don't think that we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people."

On Sunday, Trump announced he is extending the federal government's social distancing guidelines until the end of April, saying if the death toll stays at around 100,000 or less, this would indicate "we all together have done a very good job." Brendan Morrow

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