If I Were a White House Correspondent
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
April 8, 2020; 6:09 pm EDT; White House Coronavirus Briefing:
Me: "Mr. President, if I may, I would like to ask Dr. Fauci a few questions."
President Trump: "Go ahead doctor. You know he was a great, great basketball player. Many, many people say he was a great basketball player. A little small, but you know."
President Trump steps aside and Dr. Fauci, approaches the podium.
Me: "Dr. Fauci, estimates range from 25% to 70%, maybe more will eventually be inflicted by coronavirus."
Dr. Fauci: "Well, it's hard to say, but those numbers are . . . let's just say it's possible."
Me: "Would you be comfortable saying approximately 20% will eventually be inflicted?"
Dr. Fauci: "Even with the measures we are recommending, such as social distancing, stay at home, and relentless hand washing, I'd say that is a realistic number. But our goal is to drive those totals down as much as possible. And of course, to bend the curve. To spread that number out over time so we don't overwhelm the healthcare system."
Me: "So, conservatively, let's call it 65 million Americans will eventually be sickened. Granted, 55-60 million will be mild cases, yet, all have to be quarantined."
Dr. Fauci: "Yes, potentially 65 million. Ma . . . ma . . . maybe more."
Me: "We currently have about 430,000 confirmed cases and nearly 15,000 deceased."
Dr. Fauci: "That sounds about right."
Me: "Would you say the number who have been inflicted but not reported would be five, even ten times the number of known cases?"
Dr. Fauci: "That's hard to say, I don't want to speculate until we have more testing, including serum testing. Then we'll have a better idea how many people are already immune."
Me: "OK. In my example, would you object if I used twenty times the number reported? The higher factor makes my assumptions more conservative."
Dr. Fauci: "No, no. Go ahead."
Me: "Fine. So, let’s assume as of now, rounding up, approximately nine million Americans have caught the virus. None of those have been reported."
Dr. Fauci: "If you assume twenty times the number of people already confirmed, then yes, just under nine million."
Me: "I'm trying to be conservative doctor. You're OK with twenty times the number of confirmed cases, correct?"
Dr. Fauci: "Yes."
Me: "Great. So, again, rounding up, 20 times the 430,000 known cases is 9 million unconfirmed cases of coronavirus. Add the 430,000 known cases and we have approximately 9.5 million people who are now immune. Agreed?"
Dr. Fauci: "Yes, under your premise, the assumptions are reasonable."
Me: "If so, then only about 15% of the projected 65 million have actually communicated the virus. That means we have another 55-60 million more Americans who will eventually fall ill. Five to ten million of them will need to be hospitalized. If these assumptions are correct, the numbers are staggering. How can we reopen the country? The numbers would explode far beyond these assumptions. The streets will turn into zombie land. How will our hospitals survive? I mean . . ."
Dr. Fauci: "Well, well, it’s . . . it's challenging."
Me: "Thank you Dr. Fauci. Yes, it's challenging."