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Trump Says Keeping U.S. Coronavirus Deaths to 100,000 Would Be a 'Good Job'

Health + Wellness
Trump Says Keeping U.S. Coronavirus Deaths to 100,000 Would Be a 'Good Job'
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Just over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."


Speaking as the death toll from the novel coronavirus climbed above 2,300 in the U.S. — which has the most confirmed cases of the virus in the world — Trump cited recent research warning that 2.2 million people in the U.S. could die from COVID-19 if the nation's government and population take no action to mitigate the threat.

"You're talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this," the president said. "And so, if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000 — that's a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100- and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job."

Watch:

Critics condemned Trump's remarks as remarkably cruel and callous, particularly coming from someone who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus — at one point suggesting it was a "new hoax" perpetrated by the Democratic Party — and urged Americans to get back to work despite warnings from medical professionals.

"There really are no words for this level of insensitivity and inhumanity. A serial killer would be jealous," said Charles Idelson of National Nurses United in response to Trump's comments.

Others reacted with similar alarm and disgust:

Trump announced Sunday that the White House is extending federal social distancing guidelines to at least April 30, a retreat from the president's insistence last week that the country could be "rarin' to go" by Easter — April 12.

Noting the president's rapidly shifting goalposts, CNN reporter Daniel Dale tweeted late Sunday, "Trump has come a long way from the 15-cases-but-we're-going-down-to-zero."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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