U.S. deaths from coronavirus could reach 200,000 with millions of cases, the government’s top infectious diseases expert warned on Sunday as New York, New Orleans and other major cities pleaded for more medical supplies.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated in an interview with CNN that the pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States.
Since 2010, the flu has killed between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 1918-19 flu pandemic killed 675,000 in the United States, according to the CDC.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 2,400 on Sunday, after deaths on Saturday more than doubled from the level two days prior. The United States has now recorded more than 137,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the most of any country in the world.
Jason Brown, who was laid off from his job in digital media due to the pandemic, said Fauci’s estimate was scary.
“I feel like it’s just growing, growing, growing,” said Brown, who is 27 and lives in Los Angeles, one of the epicenters of the outbreak. “There’s no vaccine. It seems like a lot of people don’t take it seriously in the U.S. so it makes me believe that this would become more drastic and drastic.”
Erika Andrade, a teacher who lives in Trumbull, Connecticut, said she was already expecting widespread deaths from the virus before Fauci’s estimate on Sunday.
“I wasn’t surprised that he said the numbers were coming. They were lower than what I actually expected,” said Andrade, 49. “I’m worried for my mother. I’m worried for the people I love.”
In New York, the usually bustling city was quiet except for the sound of ambulance sirens.