The death toll due to coronavirus in the United States Wednesday crept past 60,000, a figure that Trump in recent weeks had suggested might be the total death count. Putting a positive face on the latest grim numbers, Trump delivered his daily upbeat update and described the administration’s much-criticised response to the pandemic as “a great success story”. He had cited the estimate as a sign of relative success after the White House previously warned the US could suffer 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
Accoring to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “It’s simplistic for Trump or other public officials to focus on the death toll since it’s incomplete. Cases not initially classified as Covid-19 could be added at a later date,” she said in a quote to AP.
“The problem is you look at the number on your television screen and the number looks real?” she said. “What you don’t have is that that number should have an asterisk next to it,” she added.
The country has recorded 60,207 deaths from coronavirus, and 1,030,487 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the US according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US accounts for around one-third of all confirmed cases worldwide.
The US has now lost more people to coronavirus than the Vietnam war. Over the country’s nearly two decades of involvement in Vietnam, 58,220 Americans were killed.
The death toll will continue to climb in the coming weeks, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the current death toll may represent an undercount.
Trump tempers his comments by saying even one death is too many, but he’s also appeared relieved at the notion of a toll of 60,000. That’s more in a matter of months than the 58,220 US military deaths during the Vietnam War but far below the 675,000 deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic that Trump often cites.
“The minimum number was 100,000 lives, and I think we’ll be substantially under that number,” he said April 10.
His actions have been challenged by state, local and public health officials who have complained about shortages of testing supplies and safety gear for doctors and nurses.
In his latest update, Trump also said that federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire on Thursday, even as the number of Americans who have died of coronavirus surpassed 60,000.