White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx defended her claim that there would be fewer than 60,000 deaths from the virus as new projections warn that the death toll could reach 150,000 people.
In an interview on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace grilled Birx about the discrepancy.
"A month ago, both you and President Trump were talking about 60,000 COVID-19 deaths," Fox News host Chris Wallace noted. "Early this week, we're going to reach 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus and those models you're citing now talk about close to 150,000 deaths by August."
"What happened, doctor?" he asked.
Birx deflected the question by pointing to a model that said the United States could see over 2 million deaths if no action was taken to combat the pandemic.
"Those are the figures that we continue to stand by in this first wave," she insisted. "And understanding how to prevent future hospitalizations and future deaths is really what we're focused on every single day."
"A month ago, you were saying we were going to come down on the low end of the model," Wallace pressed, "from a hundred to two hundred thousand to 60,000."
"In this last month, did you underestimate the strength of the virus?" he wondered. "Did we reopen too soon? Did we reopen without sufficient restrictions?"
"What I was saying in that briefing is what that model was showing," Birx said before noting that U.S. has a lower mortality rate than some European countries.
Birx also advised Americans to enjoy Memorial Day weekend safely.
"I'm very concerned when people go out and don't maintain social distancing," she explained. "We now have scientific evidence of how far droplets go when we speak... We also know that it's important that we have masks on if we're less than six feet and that we have to maintain that six feet distance."
"There are super spreader events when people come together," the doctor added.
"This crowd of people at beaches this weekend, is that a super spreader event?" Wallace asked.
"We want you to be outside," Birx replied. "We know that there are ways you can play tennis with marked balls so you're not touching each others' balls. We know there's a way to play golf and social distance."