Trump warned of a "painful" and "tough" two-week stretch ahead as he extended nationwide distancing measures that -- even if followed closely -- could still mean more than 100,000 and up to 240,000 Americans die from coronavirus.
It was a stark message from a President who spent weeks downplaying the severity of the virus and questioned its potential impact in the United States.
Trump did not minimize what has become the gravest public health crisis in decades during his remarks that stretched more than two hours on Tuesday. Instead, he advised Americans that darker days are still to come. "I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks," Trump said, setting expectations for a dire fortnight where death rates spike.
He was speaking during a White House news conference meant to formally reissue nationwide coronavirus guidelines after Trump -- faced with dire models showing hundreds of thousands of potential American deaths, polls indicating support for social distancing and calamitous scenes at New York hospitals -- determined another 30 days of social distancing were necessary to avert disaster.
After he spoke, the top health officials on Trump's task force presented a series of slides showing their models for how the social distancing measures might help prevent potentially millions of deaths.
But in a dire prediction, Dr. Deborah Birx said that even if the federal guidelines are followed precisely, between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths could still occur -- a number that well surpasses the American death toll in the Vietnam War.