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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Could Reach 240,000, Task Force Warns

Officials say number could drop if national social distancing guidelines are followed to the letter

WEDNESDAY, April 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The White House coronavirus task force delivered a tough statistic to Americans late Tuesday, warning that the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could climb to 240,000, even with social distancing policies in place.

President Donald Trump warned citizens to brace for a "hell of a bad two weeks" during a media briefing Tuesday evening. "I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead," Trump said. "This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we've ever had in our country. We're going to lose thousands of people."

Still, public health officials suggested that number could drop if everyone followed national social distancing guidelines to the letter. "We really believe we can do a lot better than that," task force coordinator Deborah Birx, M.D., said during the briefing. But all Americans must take their role in preventing the spread of coronavirus seriously, she added. "There's no magic bullet," Birx said. "There's no magic vaccine or therapy. It's just behaviors. Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic."

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday asked health care workers in less hard-hit areas of the country to help battle coronavirus in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. "If you don't have a health care crisis within your community, please come help us now," Cuomo said, CBS News reported. "Today it's New York, tomorrow it will be somewhere else. This is the time for us to help one another."

As of Wednesday morning, there were 189,753 COVID-19 cases and more than 4,000 deaths, pushing the United States ahead of China's death count of 3,316, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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