For the 5th time in two weeks, Trump tweaks projected death toll

When a president finds it necessary to revise a projected death toll five times in 13 days, there's a problem.
Image: TOPSHOT-US-HEALTH-VIRUS
A body is moved from a refrigeration truck serving as a temporary morgue to a vehicle at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, in Brooklyn, New York on April 8, 2020.Bryan R. Smith / AFP - Getty Images

Two weeks ago today, Donald Trump said he believed the overall American death toll from the coronavirus could be as low as 50,000 people. By the end of the week, the president's forecast had already been exposed as tragically wrong.

Exactly one week later, Trump said the overall American death toll from the coronavirus would "probably" be as low as 60,000 people. Four days later, based on NBC News' overall tally, the fatalities from the pandemic climbed past that threshold, too.

This past Wednesday, the president suggested the number of fatalities in the United States could be as low as 65,000. Predictably, we also soon passed that projected total.

Last night, Trump held his latest Fox News event -- this time using the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop -- and acknowledged that he was moving the goalposts with his fourth number in 13 days. "I used to say 65,000," the president said, pointing to a total he promoted just a few days earlier. "And now I'm saying 80,000 or 90,000."

Around the same time, the president rolled out his fifth projected death toll.

President Donald Trump has warned that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus outbreak could reach 100,000 -- revising upwards his estimate on the number of people the outbreak could kill by tens of thousands. "Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person out of this," Trump said speaking during a Fox News virtual town hall.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, when I say I don't know why Trump keeps doing this, I'm not being coy or facetious. I honestly have no idea. There is no upside to a president, every few days, presenting a new projected death toll, seeing reality catch up to that number, and then starting the process anew.

Obviously, we're dealing with an unfolding crisis and our collective understanding of the details is changing frequently. But when a president finds it necessary to revise a projected death toll five times in 13 days, there's a problem.