James LaPorta, Spencer Ackerman Army Warned in Early February That Coronavirus Could Kill 150,000 Americans

Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

This week, as coronavirus deaths in the U.S. spiraled upward to surpass those killed on 9/11, the White House is conceding that an optimistic assessment of the coming death toll will leave between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans dead. But if the White House had heeded an Army warning nearly two months ago, it might have prompted earlier action to prevent an outbreak that threatens to kill more Americans than two to four Vietnam Wars.

An unclassified briefing document on the novel coronavirus prepared on Feb. 3 by U.S. Army-North projected that “between 80,000 and 150,000 could die.” It framed the projection as a “Black Swan” analysis, meaning an outlier event of extreme consequence but often understood as an unlikely one. 

In other words, the Army’s projections on Feb. 3 for the worst-case scenario in the coronavirus outbreak are, as of this week, the absolute best-case scenario–if not a miraculous one. 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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