WASHINGTON, DC -- As he prepares to travel across the country to Arizona on Tuesday, and with Monday another day without a coronavirus task force briefing, President Donald Trump is continuing to use other venues to highlight what he insists is his administration's strong response to the deadly pandemic.
Yet, even as he pushes for the country to reopen, internal Trump administration projections indicate the daily death toll will nearly double. They estimate that about 3,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus every day by June 1, according to Centers for Disease Control documents obtained by the New York Times.
The increased estimates come as states have eased restrictions and after a weekend many Americans spent outside at protests or enjoying spring days in the park. Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, among others, moved to loosen restrictions in an attempt to revive a sputtering economy and calm restless residents.
But the projections make clear that these reopenings come with fatal risks.
“It’s simple logic,” CNN’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said. “When you tell people, ‘Hey, you can go to bars, you can get your nails done, you can go to a restaurant,’ those numbers are going to go up.”
Trump himself conceded that the U.S. death toll may reach 100,000 lives, as opposed to the roughly 60,000 "minimum number" he had touted as a success.
"I'll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives," Trump said during. "It is horrible to go through, but it is working out."
Despite the rising death toll, Trump is pressing for governors to speed up reopening, saying, "Some states, I think, frankly, aren't going fast enough." Half the states eased some guidelines over the weekend.
He also said he believes a vaccine could be available by year's end -- something many health experts say is necessary before the nation can safely reopen in full.
During a Fox News interview at the Lincoln Memorial, Trump complained that despite what he calls his successes, he's been treated worse than the assassinated president.
Even as cases in Washington continue to rise, the Senate reconvened Monday, and lawmakers are supposed wear masks and take other social distancing precautions. The standoff over liability protections and fight over aid to state and local governments continues.