President Trump said on Sunday night that the death toll from the coronavirus in the United States might reach as high as 100,000 — far higher than he forecast just weeks ago — even as he pressed states to begin reopening shuttered businesses.
Mr. Trump, who last month said that 60,000 lives could be lost in the country, acknowledged that the virus has proved more devastating than he had expected. He nonetheless said he believed that parks and beaches should begin reopening and that schools should resume classes in person by the fall.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” he said in a virtual town hall meeting on Fox News. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.”
During the two-hour broadcast, he acknowledged that he had been warned about the coronavirus in his regular intelligence briefing on Jan. 23, but said that the information had been characterized as if “it was not a big deal.”
“On Jan. 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in but it was of no real import,” Mr. Trump said. “In other words, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something.’ It was a brief conversation, and it was only on Jan. 23.”
His comments come as warmer weather and fatigue over weeks of confinement lured millions of Americans outside this weekend, adding to pressure on city and state officials to enforce, or loosen, restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
And in Los Angeles, a website for residents to make testing appointments was deluged with visitors. Some complained on social media that no time slots were available for the free tests.
The website made its debut last week after Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Los Angeles would become the first major U.S. city to offer all residents tests for the coronavirus, which health officials said on Sunday had caused 1,229 deaths in Los Angeles County.