President Donald Trump and his administration seemed to delight in the idea that there would only be 100,000 people who die due to coronavirus. As some states still refuse to quarantine, however, those numbers could be soft. Being gleeful about the 100,000 people is disappointing, given other countries have managed to have far fewer deaths.
“I think that’s quite in line with what we anticipate,” said Dr. Celine Gounder. “To put that in context, China has a population of more than four times that of the U.S., and their deaths from coronavirus to date are just over 3,000. We’re almost at that number. So, we’re looking at many even with only 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, and we’re looking at many folds more than what the Chinese have been able to achieve. I don’t see that as some great victory frankly.”
Commentator David Gergen agreed, saying that we’re about to experience a death count 40 times what we are experiencing now.
“That’s no victory,” he said.
Governors have been begging for ventilators, something Trump said was probably not as necessary as the states and hospitals are making them out to be. Trump had promised 100,000 ventilators in 100 days, but he’s now backtracking.
Dr. Gounder said that she doesn’t see it happening any time soon.
Gergen said that he’s grateful that the president has changed his mind about a lot of the things he believed about coronavirus, but had he acted earlier, lives could have been saved.
Now Trump is saying that hospitals are hoarding ventilators and masks.
“Let’s say the average medical team is 20 patients. Well, zero to one of those patients require us to wear an N95 mask,” said Dr. Gounder. “In coronavirus days it’s more like 19 or 20 out of 20 require us to use that kind of mask. So you’re going from one out of 20 to 20 out of 20. You take 10 to 20,000, and you multiply that by 20, you’re looking at 200,000 to 400,000. So, that actually fits completely with the demands that are being made in terms of we need these supplies.
In the second half of the conversation, Gergen said that one thing Trump could do to help people right now is “to go on a crusade on Fox News and convince his base that this is serious. Convince his base that they ought to really hunker down. That would really help a lot if he can change those numbers. You can flatten out this curve much more rapidly than otherwise.”
“But David, it wasn’t just one tweet. It was multiple tweets about ratings. Could anyone in the White House intervene at this point?” CNN host Ana Cabrara asked.
“No, you’re right. He came up with it at the press conference,” Gergen replied. “And took shots at CNN, as he took shots at individual reporters, which is uncalled for. And it is distressing. It reveals, to a degree, that it’s uncomfortable. Just how he thinks and what he places value on. And this is not a reality show. It’s altogether too real, and Americans are going to go through so much stress in the next month as we try to come together and get this done. He’s got to be the leader not in patting himself on the back, but being the leader and having people change their minds about how serious this is. We can all work together at the same time.”
Watch the exchange below: