It’s going to be a ‘very, very painful two weeks’

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, March 29, 2020.

Al Drago | Reuters

President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus cases, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the U.S. is facing a “very, very painful two weeks.” 

“This is going to be a rough two-week period,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday. “When you look at night the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.”

The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world with 184,000 confirmed infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New York has now become the new epicenter of the outbreak in the world with 75,795 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning, more reported infections than China’s Hubei province where the coronavirus emerged in December. 

Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the outbreak in the state may not peak for three weeks.

“I’m tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one,” the governor said in Albany. “We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.”

Trump, who grew up near New York City’s Elmhurst hospital in Queens, said no one can believe that they are setting up refrigerator trucks as temporary mortuaries outside the hospital.

“When you look at night the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible,” Trump said. “You’re going to start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, but this is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”

Dr. Deborah Birx , coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said they are still projecting between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the U.S. with a peak in fatalities over the next two weeks. 

“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” said Fauci, who also sits on the task force. “It will be difficult, not one is denying that we are going through a really difficult time right now.”

Fauci and Birx both said they hope that efforts will result in fewer of those deaths if possible, especially in hotspots like New York and New Jersey. They are also trying to prevent new outbreaks from cropping up in other areas of the country.

“We have to brace ourselves. In the next several days to a week or so we are going to continue to see things go up,” said Fauci, who’s director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We can not be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 

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