For the past several weeks, a fixture of President ’s daily coronavirus task force press briefings has been his insistence that the ultimate measure of his administration’s handling of the pandemic will be the number of Americans killed by .
At Monday’s briefing, said the latest projections for coronavirus fatalities proved the wisdom of his implementing a travel ban from China and the guidelines of his coronavirus task force recommending that states institute social distancing practices — practices that he has recently encouraged residents of some states to end.
“We did the right thing, because if you didn’t do it, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe 2 million people dead. Now we’re going toward 50 or 60,000 people,” told reporters. “One is too many, I always say it. One is too many. But we’re going toward 50 or 60,000 people, that’s at the lower — as you know, the lower number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We could end up at 50 to 60 [thousand]. OK, it’s horrible. If we didn’t do what we did, we would have had, I think, a million people, maybe 2 million people, maybe more than that.”
Public health experts agree that by shuttering schools and businesses the U.S. avoided a large number of fatalities.
The grim prediction of up to 2.2 million American deaths from was contained in a report by researchers at the Imperial College of London, based on the worst-case premise that the U.S. government would take no action to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
As the U.S. death toll has climbed — to 43,600 as of Tuesday afternoon — one boast was prone to make earlier in the pandemic has dropped from his Twitter feed and briefing rants: the comparison to the death toll from the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic during the Obama administration.
Biden/Obama were a disaster in handling the H1N1 Swine Flu. Polling at the time showed disastrous approval numbers. 17,000 people died unnecessarily and through incompetence! Also, don’t forget their 5 Billion Dollar Obamacare website that should have cost close to nothing!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that H1N1 killed 12,500 Americans after infecting more than 60 million here, but that didn’t keep from repeatedly using a higher figure to bash his predecessor at briefings and on Twitter.
Weeks earlier, when toured CDC headquarters in Atlanta on March 7, the president expressed surprise at the average annual death rate in the U.S. from influenza. “Over the last long period of time, you have an average of 36,600 people dying,” said, adding, “I never heard those numbers. I would’ve been shocked. I would’ve said, ‘Does anybody die from the flu?’ I didn’t know people died of the flu.”
At his March 24 White House briefing, again noted that as many as 50,000 Americans could die of flu this year. He also offered another analogy, saying, “We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.”
Annual deaths from automobile accidents in the U.S. have been in a range of 35,000 to 38,000 in recent years. The CDC estimates that from 24,000 to 62,000 Americans died from influenza in the 2019-2020 flu season, which typically runs from October through April. The 43,600 deaths from the coronavirus have occurred in less than six weeks, during which most of the country has been under some form of stay-at-home lockdown.
, who has long promoted what he calls an “America first” agenda, has been eager at his briefings to contextualize the numbers that show the U.S. having the most cases and deaths, by far, of any country.
“The United States has produced dramatically better health outcomes than any other country, with the possible exception of Germany,” declared during Saturday’s task force briefing, adding, “On a per capita basis our mortality rate is far lower than other nations of Western Europe.”
is correct that the U.S., with 129.28 deaths per million population as of Tuesday, is doing better than Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland. Nations with lower death rates than the U.S. include Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Canada, Slovenia, Norway, Panama, Estonia, Ecuador and Turkey, according to figures from Statista.
For what it’s worth, U.S. death figures for are also likely underreported. That’s because the CDC counts only deaths from the virus that are confirmed by a laboratory test, and many people who die at home or in nursing homes, while having shown symptoms of the virus, are never tested.
“We know that it is an underestimation,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told the Washington Post in reference to the official death count.
Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.