Up To 150 Million Americans Could Get Coronavirus – US Lawmaker

US representative from Michigan Rashida Tlaib speaks before Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders addresses his supporters during a campaign rally at TCF Center in Detroit, Michigan, on March 6, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP


The physician for the United States Congress expects between 70 to 150 million people in the country to eventually get infected with the novel coronavirus, a lawmaker said Thursday.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made the remarks during a hearing of the House of Representatives with members of the president’s coronavirus task force, confirming what was reported earlier by US media outlets including Axios and NBC News.

“Congress’s attending physician told the Senate that he expects between 70 to 150 million people to eventually contract the coronavirus in the United States,” Tlaib said.

Axios had reported that doctor Brian Monahan conveyed the projection to Senate senior staff on Tuesday, telling them they should prepare for the worst and offering advice on how to remain healthy.

The upper end of the projection is about 46 percent of the US population of 327 million people. By comparison German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned this week that up to 70 percent of her country’s population could get the virus.

Asked by Tlaib whether he believed the projection was accurate, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told the hearing: “We really need to be careful with those kinds of predictions because that’s based on a model.”

He added that “all models are as good as the assumptions that you put into the model” and that with containment and mitigation the upper end of the projection could be avoided.

About 80 percent of coronavirus cases are mild, and the overall mortality rate is around one percent, according to the latest estimate provided by Fauci to Congress on Wednesday.

At the low end of the projection this would mean about 700,000 deaths. At the high end it would mean 1.5 million deaths.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death for Americans in 2018, with just over 650,000 deaths in 2018. The flu and pneumonia caused around 60,000 deaths.

Risk from coronavirus starts to increase for people who are over 60 and is heightened more for those over 80, as well as for people who have conditions like diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or whose immune systems are compromised.

Fauci noted that a 2014 model by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projected the African Ebola outbreak could affect more than a million people. But this was eventually not the case and the final number was under 30,000.

 ‘Failing’ on test shortages 

Fauci also responded to a query about people having difficulty getting access to tests, which US authorities have come under severe criticism over.

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing,” said Fauci. “Let’s admit it.”

“The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we’re not.”

Vice President Mike Pence, the White House’s pointman for the crisis, claimed earlier this week that “a million tests are in the field” and four million would be going out soon.

But the CDC’s director Robert Redfield said that the kits were not operational because there was a shortage of substances that activated them, called re-agents, and they also required more nasal swabs and trained staff.


US Lawmaker Barred By Israel Calls Move ‘Chilling’ Insult

Ilhan Omar                                                                             Rashida Tlaib/AFP


House Democrat Ilhan Omar called Israel’s decision Thursday to ban her from visiting the country “chilling,” saying it was an “insult to democratic values” to deny entry to sitting members of the US Congress.

“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, under pressure from President (Donald) Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the US government,” Omar, who is Muslim, said in a sharply worded statement.

“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”

The Somali refugee, elected to Congress from Minnesota last year, was denied entry to Israel along with fellow first-term Democrat Rashida Tlaib.

Israeli officials said the pair — the first Muslim women to serve in Congress — were barred because they support a boycott of the country over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Omar highlighted her congressionally mandated role of overseeing how US foreign aid is spent abroad, including the roughly $3 billion that Washington provides Israel annually.

“As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world,” Omar said.

In addition to blasting Israel for essentially implementing “Trump’s Muslim ban” by denying the two congresswomen entry, Omar also slammed the prime minister.

Netanyahu “has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump,” she said.

Both Omar, 37, and Tlaib, 43, have been critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and treatment of Palestinians.

They have also faced accusations of anti-Semitism, which they firmly deny.

Fellow Democrats vehemently criticized Israel’s ban. Many said that while they break with the two lawmakers on their anti-Israel positions, they fully oppose efforts to block sitting members of Congress from visiting an international ally.