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Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, was explaining that by taking precautions like social distancing and a proper medical response, the country could lower the potential COVID-19 death toll, according to scientific models.
The president interjected, telling reporters he wanted to see far fewer deaths than the current projections – which predict a surge of fatal cases going into the summer.
“The models show hundreds of thousands of people are going to die,” he said. “I want to come way under the models. The professionals did the models. I was never involved in a model. But – at least this kind of a model.”
First lady Melania Trump is a former fashion model.
The U.S. had seen at least 270,473 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,889 deaths as of Friday evening.
Earlier this week, the White House projected that between 100,000 and 240,000 people could die from COVID-19 by the end of the outbreak, with millions others falling sick.
President Trump told Americans to brace for “a very painful two weeks" as his administration rolled out new “30 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines.
A number of state governments have also ordered shutdowns of nonessential businesses and urged residents to stay at home and avoid close contact with others as part of a nationwide mobilization aimed to slowing down the virus’ spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued new guidance on face coverings, urging Americans to begin wearing them in public places, even when they are asymptomatic.
“Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure,” the CDC said.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.