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White House projects 100K to 240K coronavirus deaths if social distancing is maintained

The White House says that without any mitigation, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could skyrocket to more than 1.5 million.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and members of the White House coronavirus task force called upon American citizens Tuesday to heed the call to make sacrifices over the next 30 days to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

"This is going to be a very painful, very very painful two weeks," Trump said. 

The president formally released his 30-day guidelines for battling the coronavirus, saying compliance with the recommendations is a "matter of life and death."

The guidelines are similar to the administration's earlier advice that aimed to slow the spread of the virus in two weeks. The president, however, recently announced that he was going to extend the guidelines for another 30 days, giving up his hope to reopen the national economy by Easter.

The guidelines call for continued social distancing, staying at home if sick and calling your doctor. People are also urged to refrain from going to restaurants and bars, utilize delivery and takeout food options and protect the elderly, although young people are at risk too.

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At Tuesday's White House briefing on the pandemic, Dr. Birx explained that they have been relying on a model from the University of Washington which projects there will be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in U.S. from coronavirus pandemic if social distancing is maintained. She added that it was "still way too much."

Credit: AP
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dr. Birx added that the modeling shows that without mitigation, the death toll in the U.S. could skyrocket to somewhere between 1.5 million to 2.2 million dead. 

She also explained that it appears Italy is "beginning to turn the corner" on new cases, but stressed that there is "no magic bullet" for this. 

Credit: AP
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, cautioned that things will keep going up fro the next few days but "the mitigation is actually working and will work." 

Credit: AP
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)