Trump now says he hopes U.S. coronavirus deaths less than 100,000

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus response event in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Friday seemingly increased his estimate of possible deaths in the United States from the coronavirus, telling a White House event he hopes for less than 100,000 fatalities, a higher upper limit than the 60,000 to 70,000 deaths he discussed on Monday.

“Hopefully we’re going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number nevertheless,” Trump said.

Projections have varied for how many lives COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, would claim. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease official, had said in March that Americans should be prepared for 100,000 deaths.

“So, yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people. But if you look at what original projections were — 2.2 million — we’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000,” Trump said at a press briefing on Monday.

On Wednesday the number of deaths passed 60,000, eclipsing the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.By Friday afternoon, at least 63,260 people had died, according to a Reuters tally of state and local government reports.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool