The White House Coronavirus task force briefing on 31 March followed the cardinal rule of successful market strategists: provide a number or a date, but never both. The task force predicted 100,000-240,000 deaths related to COVID-19 and explained that the high number reflected an absence of mitigation, that it did not “accept” the 100,000 number, and that it would do its best to keep deaths below that. It also withheld specifics on timeframe other than indicating that infections would peak only in mid-April.
These predictions seem extraordinarily high against the current 5,000 (approx.) deaths attributed to COVID-19. Based on the current US mortality rate of 2.4%, even the “low” death forecast would imply 4.2m infections, against 200,000 currently. Were there such an increase over, say, the next few months, it would likely trigger a deep panic. But if deaths stay well below these numbers, as seems likely, the task force could lose credibility.
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