The last time Dr. Anthony Fauci did the Sunday Shows a few weeks back, he achieved a vaunted Washington milestone by doing all five network and cable Sunday shows – NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News & CNN – in one day. That was back when President Trump’s approval rating was soaring, and the good doctor was indisputably the lead ‘subject matter expert’ guiding the White House’s response.
That was less than a month ago. But in that time, so much has changed.
President Trump and the good doctor are said to be at odds over some vaguely critical statements made by Fauci. Of course, that didn’t stop the administration and that task force’s media team from sending him out to do more Sunday Show appearances as officials hope futures will open higher after Friday’s selloff following the first three-day rebound since February.
Still, as the death toll in the US crept above 2,000, Dr. Fauci, officially the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force told CNN’s “State of the Union” that models suggest the coronavirus will infect millions of Americans and could kill between 100,000 to 200,000.
However, he stressed that these projections are really a “moving target”, and that it’s possible the numbers could be much lower – or much higher – depending on how the US handles the response. So far, the disorganized response at the federal level has left a hodge podge of states to deal with their own problems, which is why Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards – a Democrat – is begging the Feds for help before the outbreak completely overruns his state’s capacity to handle it.
Video of Dr. Fauci telling @jaketapper that “Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases… excuse me, deaths. I mean, we’re going to have millions of cases.” #CNNSOTU
These next few weeks could be pretty rough.pic.twitter.com/Vh6xB4Fele
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 29, 2020
Back to the interview, Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper that “Looking at what we are seeing now, I would say between 100,000-200,000” deaths from the coronavirus. “We’re going to have millions of cases,” he added.
“But it’s such a moving target and you could so easily be wrong…what we do know is we have a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans and we’re going to be developing serious problems in other areas. Although people like to model it, let’s just look at the data that we have, and not worry about these worst case and best case scenarios.”
Dr. Fauci also cautioned the public about how to interpret models:
“There are things called models, and when someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions. And the model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions.”
“And whenever the modelers come in, they give a worst case scenario and a best case scenario. Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case scenario actually came out. They always overshoot.”
Dr. Fauci stressed that Trump’s hope to reopen the country by Easter will greatly depend on whether the public complies with the ‘shelter in place’ recommendations, though he said he greatly doubts that the US will be able to reopen by next week (Easter is April 12, still a couple of weeks away). And notably, when Tapper pressed Dr. Fauci about rumors the administration was ignoring Democratic governors pleas for more federal assistance simply because they were Democrats, Dr. Fauci assured CNN that anybody asking for assistance would get it.
— MAGA Immigrant (@RealCindy9) March 29, 2020
That last clip is really something: but the takeaway from the interview is this: prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. The result is going to depend on whether millions of Americans do their part not to spread the virus. So, instead of focusing on the projections, focus on reacting to the situation at hand.