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Coronavirus was the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S. on March 31

White House issues dire warning on coronavirus
White House warns 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die in coronavirus pandemic 10:30

Coronavirus is now responsible for over 5,600 deaths in the U.S., and the peak of the outbreak still lies ahead. The grim toll has made COVID-19 one of the leading causes of death in the country in recent days.

According to public health data compiled by The COVID Tracking Project, on March 30 and 31, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death nationwide, and on April 1 it was the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer. created graphs from the data. When looking at the leading causes of death in the U.S. since March 1, coronavirus comes in at No. 9 overall. 

Coronavirus has become one of the top causes of death in the U.S. in recent days.

The COVID Tracking Project projects coronavirus will be the No. 1 cause of death nationwide on peak days in April.

The pandemic appears likely to become one of the deadliest events in U.S. history. On Tuesday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said COVID-19 is now expected to cause between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths nationwide. If the higher of those figures is reached, coronavirus would rank as the seventh most deadly event in U.S. history. The lower estimate, of 100,000 deaths overall, would rank 16th.

The top three deadliest events on the list are the Civil War (750,000 deaths), HIV/AIDS (700,000 deaths to date), and the H1N1/Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (675,000 deaths). 


The White House projection of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths is if "full mitigation" measures are taken. So if Americans fail to practice social distancing and hospitals are overwhelmed by a spike in cases, the toll could be even worse.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said the country needs to be prepared for things to get worse, with the number of cases is expected to peak in the next two weeks. 

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Fauci said. However, he also said it's possible that the numbers could be lower. "We're doing everything we can to get it even significantly below that," Fauci said. And as the administration gathers more data, the models that produced those projections may change, too, Fauci and response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said. 

If the U.S. did nothing to mitigate the spread of the virus, the death toll could have been many times higher — as high as 2.2 million, President Trump said. As of Thursday, there are over 226,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Since people over the age of 65 are at higher risk for severe illness, Assisted Living Facilities urged seniors to read the CDC's guide for older adults.

The CDC says elderly Americans in particular should stay home, wash their hands often, avoid close contact with people who are sick, clean and disinfect frequently touched services, avoid non-essential air travel, and call a health care professional with concerns or if they are sick.

The same basic safety guidelines should be followed by all Americans. No one is immune to the virus and it can be a devastating illness for people at any age

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