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Author of chart projecting 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day says report was not ready to be shared

The Johns Hopkins professors who prepared the report says the numbers were not intended to be a forecast, or to be made public

Updated: May 5, 2020 - 12:49pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The controversial report published Monday about the Trump administration having a report that projects 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day in the coming months was not ready for release, according to the epidemiology professor who says he created the model.

Justin Lessler, as associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Washington Post he created the model but says the  numbers were not ready for presentation and he’s not certain how they got out into the public.

“I had no role in the process by which that was presented and shown,” Lessler told The Post. “It was not in any way intended to be a forecast.”

The model’s predictions sent shockwaves through the public when the New York Times triggered a news alert on the data Monday.

The White House immediately pushed back on the report, saying that the data had not been vetted or presented to the White House Coronavirus Task Force. 

Prior to boarding Air Force One this morning, President Trump addressed a group of reporters about the CDC model. His key claim was that the model expressed an unfettered infection rate, meaning it projected a number of daily cases and deaths that do not reflect the numbers after implementing social distancing and shelter-in-place measures, in addition to widespread testing and other efforts to contain the disease. "That’s a report with no mitigation. So based on no mitigation, but we’re doing a lot of mitigation," said Trump.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany expanded on the president's statement, “The Johns Hopkins’ study being pushed around by the media as factual is based on faulty assumptions and is in no way representative of any federal government projections and, as Johns Hopkins stated, should not be taken as a forecast. This “study” considered zero mitigation, meaning it was conducted as though no federal guidelines were in place, no contract tracing, no expansion of testing, while removing all shelter in place protocols laid out in the phased approach of the Opening Up America Again guidelines for individuals with co-morbidities," said McEnany.

She added, "the media should be more responsible in its reporting and give the full set of information to the American public.”

A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that the agency had not signed off on releasing the projection model.

The presentation is marked as a Department of Health and  Human Services and FEMA interagency model.

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