White House now taking coronavirus more seriously after report shows 2.2 million in U.S. could die

Just one day after U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday that gatherings should be limited to 50 people or less, the White House on Monday said those gatherings should be limited to 10 or less.

Why the more restrictive stance just one day later? The government is now relying on a specific scientific report that shows as many as 2.2 million people in the United States could die if actions aren't taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The New York Times confirmed the report late Monday night.

MIT's Technology Review could have called that one: On March 13th they said that a worse-case scenario for the United States was 214 million Americans infected, with 1.7 million dead. Heck, the CDC has already reported on this, so why the hang up on this?

When you compare this to the flu, only 30,000 people die each year in the U.S. There's a big difference between the two.

Dr. Deborah Birx was asked at the news conference with President Trump why the task force amped up their rhetoric so quickly and she specifically mentioned new information that came from a model developed in Britain.

“What had the biggest impact in the model is social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups,” Dr. Birx said. “The most important thing was if one person in the household became infected, the whole household self-quarantined for 14 days. Because that stops 100 percent of the transmission outside of the household.”

Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team

The report released on Monday by an epidemic modeling group at Imperial College London shared their projections with the White House about a week ago and said that an early copy of the report was sent just a few days ago.

It's clear the projections weren't taken seriously by the Trump administration when they could have been. They are now.

“We don’t have a clear exit strategy,” said Dr. Neil Ferguson, who authored the report, of the recommended measures. “We’re going to have to suppress this virus — frankly, indefinitely — until we have a vaccine.”

“It’s a difficult position for the world to be in,” he added.

Put simply - the only way to stop this disaster is for people to stay in their homes. It might seem overstretched at first, but wait a few weeks, even days, and pretty soon you'll start seeing the numbers piling up to Italy-like levels. That's what people mean when they say "flatten the curve" but it might be too late now.

For one - not everyone is on board. The United States can't make everyone stay inside their house like an authoritarian China can.

Spring Break vacationers in Florida are gathering on the beach like there's nothing wrong and it's all a fantasy. People are still flocking to bars, clubs and gyms in cities that haven't restricted them yet. In short, its a breeding ground for the virus to spread.

Since there's still not adequate testing nationwide, no one knows yet how many are truly infected yet, but the Trump administration promises to provide more soon.

Others are suggesting far more conservative death numbers, more like 480,000 deaths if the appropriate measures are taken. Under that scenario, 96 million people would be infected in the U.S. with only around five million hospital admissions. That's still way too much. More needs to be done.