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Trump predicts "hell of a bad two weeks" ahead

Trump urges Americans to social distance
Trump and top health officials urge Americans to social distance 02:24

The White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die from coronavirus if "full mitigation" measures are taken, Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Deborah Birx said during a marathon Coronavirus Task Force Briefing that lasted more than two hours. Without social distancing, deaths could be much higher, the White House projects. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said the country needs to be prepared for that many deaths, and deaths will "lag," with the number of cases expected to peak over the next two weeks. 

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Fauci said. However, he also said that the numbers could also be lower. 

"We're doing everything we can to get it even significantly below that," Fauci said when asked about the models. And as the administration gathers more data, the models can also change, too, Fauci and Birx said.

The president has extended recommendations on how to slow the spread of the virus to April 30, after earlier saying the country could likely to back to a version of normal by April, and could see the "light at the end of the tunnel." The next two weeks, Mr. Trump said Tuesday, will be a "very, very painful" period. 

"This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is gonna be a very bad two — or maybe even three — weeks," the president said. "This is going to be three weeks like we haven't seen before."

But those deaths could have been as high as 2.2 million, if the U.S. did nothing, Mr. Trump said.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Holds Daily Briefing
President Donald Trump stands next to a graph during the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on March 31, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Getty

A growing number of governors are issuing orders demanding their residents remain in their homes as the death toll from the coronavirus in the country surpassed 3,000 overnight, but President Trump said such a move nationwide is doubtful. 

On Monday, leaders of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia issued stay-at-home orders, with Virginia's set to last until June 10, the latest of any state so far. The president acknowledged a nationwide order has been discussed within the White House, given the likelihood of more outbreaks in major cities, but said the extreme measure was "pretty unlikely."

Not all states have stay-at-home orders. Florida reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, but still has no stay-at-home order. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would take into great consideration any recommendation from the Coronavirus Task Force to issue such an order, but none has been issued. The White House said it's leaving those decisions up to the states. 

Mr. Trump knocked down a claim from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that impeachment distracted the federal government from responding to the coronavirus. Asked about that statement, Mr. Trump said impeachment "didn't divert my attention," even though he naturally spent time thinking about it. 

"I don't think I would have done any better had I not been impeached," Mr. Trump said. 

More than 186,265 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States as of Tuesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University

The president announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is setting up field hospitals, including a 250-bed hospital in Michigan and field hospitals in Louisiana that will amount to 500 beds.

With no indication of when life in the U.S. will begin to return to normal, House Democrats started drafting a fourth coronavirus relief package that would focus on the needs of hospitals, including protections for frontline workers, and investments in infrastructure.

"It is ravaging, it is horrible," Mr. Trump said of the pandemic. 

Here are the graphs that Fauci and Birx showed during the briefing:

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