Between 100,000 and 200,000 people in America could die as a result of coronavirus, one of the doctors leading the US response has warned, after a weekend on which the global death toll surpassed 30,000.
The US death toll climbed above 2,000 over the weekend, with local politicians warning they are fast running out of medical equipment. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the disease was starting to spread quickly in cities other than New York, the epicentre of the American outbreak. “We are going to be seeing places like Detroit and other places getting into trouble,” he told CNN on Sunday.
“I expect 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and we are going to see millions of cases.”
New York state reported another jump in fatalities over the weekend, with 965 people having died as of Sunday — up from 518 just 48 hours earlier.
The Trump administration on Saturday advised residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut not to undertake any non-essential travel, with President Donald Trump warning that people from those areas were infecting other parts of the country.
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, said he welcomed that move, having opposed an earlier suggestion from the president that he might put the three states under enforced travel restrictions.
Bill DeBlasio, mayor of New York City, however, said the bigger problem was that his city was running out of medical equipment.
“We have enough supplies to get to one week from now,” he said. “Except for ventilators — we need a few hundred more ventilators.”
Tensions between the federal government and individual states have flared over the past few days, as governors warn they are not getting the support they need from the White House.
Mr Trump has been heavily criticised for comments he made on Friday in which he appeared to suggest he would not help states whose governors had not been sufficiently appreciative of his administration. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” the president said.
Several governors said on Sunday they had good relations with the White House, but some pointed to specific problems in their interactions with the federal government.
Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, whom Mr Trump has previously attacked, said her state was struggling to get the equipment it needed. She told CNN: “We have had contracts that were delayed or cancelled altogether because the equipment was going to the federal government.”
As states call for increased supplies to deal with the rising number of cases, Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, floated the possibility of a second financial bill to provide for local areas in particular.
Less than 48 hours after Mr Trump signed a $2tn stimulus package into law, Ms Pelosi said more would be needed, which would provide for more medical equipment, as well as increased family and sick leave. “We need to pass another bill that goes to meeting the need more substantially than we have,” she said.
Ms Pelosi also accused Mr Trump of having cost American lives by being too slow to respond. “As the president fiddles, people are dying,” she said.
The White House appears to be more sceptical of the need for a second bill. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told ABC News: “I think [the stimulus bill] will be enough . . . You’re really talking about one-third of GDP. One-third of the whole economy is being covered by this package.”
As Congress and the White House debate how to mitigate the economic effects of the crisis, Mr Trump has suggested restrictions on people’s movement could be ended as early as mid-April.
His medical experts have sought to dial down such expectations, but Dr Fauci suggested this weekend that limits could be relaxed within weeks in certain parts of the US.
“I am not against releasing the restrictions, I am for it, in the appropriate place,” he said. “But I don’t recommend it unless we have testing in place in real time. If we can do that, we can keep things contained.”