U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his administration’s plans to respond to the economic crisis during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response event in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, January 22, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Joe Biden has painted a bleak picture of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak in his first few days in office, warning that it will take months to turn around the pandemic’s trajectory and that fatalities are expected to dramatically rise over the next few weeks.
“A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging. We’re 400,000 dead expected to reach well over 600,000,” Biden said on Friday before signing two executive orders designed to reduce hunger and bolster workers’ rights amid the pandemic.
The U.S. surpassed 400,000 total Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, with a quarter of those coming over the previous 36 days, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Biden’s first full day as president on Thursday, he told reporters following a meeting with his Covid-19 advisors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, that the nation would likely top 500,000 Covid-19 deaths in February.
Biden warned on Friday that as the outbreak continues, “there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” The president has repeatedly warned that the situation is likely to worsen before it improves.
The United States has reported a decline in Covid-19 cases in recent days, a glimmer of hope following a surge since the fall and through the winter holiday season. The U.S. is reporting an average of roughly 187,593 new Covid-19 cases daily, a 22% decline compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
However, the nation is still “in a very serious situation,” Fauci said during his first White House press briefing appearance under the new administration on Thursday, noting the country’s high death toll and strained hospital capacity.
Fauci said that the daily number of cases, based on a weekly average, appears to be plateauing and turning around. It’s possible that the dip could still be because of a reduced reporting following the holidays, he added.
“When we see that, we think it’s real,” Fauci said.
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.