The Army warned that Coronavirus could kill up to 150,000 one month before President Donald Trump dismissed the disease. The virus was described as a ‘Black Swan Event’
An unclassified briefing document projected that ‘between 80,000 and 150,000 could die’ from Covid-19 on 3 February.
U.S. Army-North prepared the document but there is some question about how widely its findings were circulated. The Army considered the virus a ‘Black Swan Event’ – a one off catastrophic outlier.
The Army’s worst case scenario is now better than the current best case scenario. Anywhere up to 240,000 Americans are projected to die during the outbreak.
It’s not clear if the President was personally aware of the document but it reached high levels in U.S. Northern Command.
President Trump downplayed the severity of the virus on 4 March – one month after the Army’s casualty projections. Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the WHO’s 3.4% death estimate was a ‘false number.’
“I think the 3.4% is really a false number,” Trump told Hannity.
“Now, this is just my hunch,” he said. “But based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild.”
“They will get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor.”
Trump went on to compare the Coronvirus global pandemic to the seasonal flu.
“But, you know, again, a lot of people don’t report, because they get the coronavirus, and they get better relatively quickly,” he said.
“It’s not that severe.”
The U.S. death toll has now exceeded 5,000 with many more fatalities expected.
Darragh Roche is a journalist covering U.S. politics and media