Monday, May 04, 2020


This should be the most shocking story of the Trump presidency, but I fear we're too numb to feel it:
As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750.

The projections, based on modeling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases now....

The projections confirm the primary fear of public health experts: that a reopening of the economy will put the nation right back where it was in mid-March, when cases were rising so rapidly in some parts of the country that patients were dying on gurneys in hospital hallways as the health care system grew overloaded.
I think many Americans won't be able to grasp this because it's close to unthinkable, but let me restate what's being reported here: The president of the United States, who has been incessantly cheerleading for a reopening of the economy, is doing so even though his own administration's model is informing him that this will significantly increase the number of people who are sickened and killed by the coronavirus. President Trump is not crossing his fingers and hoping that the reopenings take place with few bad consequences. President Trump is choosing to kill innocent American citizens.

Trump will not be impeached for this, or for anything else between now and the end of his term in January 2021. But knowingly and willfully causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans is an offense worthy of impeachment and removal from office.

At the very least, some Democrats should be saying this now. They should be demanding to see the forecasts. They should be calling Trump a murderer.


UPDATE: Here's the inevitable pushback.

But the story didn't say it was a White House document -- just that it was based on CDC modeling and was "pulled together in chart form" (presumably in the hope that Trump might be able to read it that way) by FEMA. And if it didn't go through the Coronavirus Task Force or interagency review, it can still be a document policymakers are relying on -- it's not as if there's a smooth, linear process for gathering and vetting all information in this administration. In any case, the American people deserve to see the document, and to know everything about it. Democrats should say as much.


UPDATE: I posted hastily and missed the link to the document -- it's here (hat tip Yastreblyansky), with this header:

So the attempt to suggest that it's just a random document that's totally unrelated to how the administration looks at this crisis is extremely misleading. (But read Yastreblyansky's post for a different projection, from Penn Wharton, that suggests reopening might lead to an additional 30,000 deaths by June 30.)


ON THE OTHER HAND: The Washington Post reports:
The creator of the model said the numbers are unfinished projections shown to the CDC as a work in progress.

The work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete, according to Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who created the model. He said he didn’t know how the update was turned into a slidedeck by government officials and shared with news organizations....

“I had no role in the process by which that was presented and shown,” said Lessler, who added that the data was presented as an “FYI” of work still in progress to officials within FEMA. “It was not in any way intended to be a forecast.”
Lessler said that while the exact numbers and charts in the CDC document may differ from the final results, they do show accurately how covid-19 cases could spiral out of control. He said 100,000 cases per day by the end of the month is within the realm of possibility. Much depends on political decisions being made today.

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