The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert has sharply  lowered the projection for U.S. deaths from the CCP Virus, arguing that social distancing and behavior changes are starting to have a real effect.

“The real data are telling us that it is highly likely that we’re having a definite positive effect by this mitigation things that we’re doing—this physical separation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said in an interview with NBC News on Thursday, April 9.

“I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000 [range] than the 100,000 to 200,000,” said Fauci—director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In late March, Fauci warned that the virus pandemic could kill up to 200,000 Americans as millions could become infected.

Fauci predicted a lower death toll from the initial projection as the government now has more data about the spread of the CCP Virus in the United States.

“I think the American public has done a really terrific job just buckling down and doing those physical separations and adhering to those guidelines …,” he said. “Models are really only as good as the assumptions that you put into the model.”

The White House has been monitoring a model from the University of Washington, which projects 60,415 Americans will die by Aug. 4, according to USA Today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday also expected the number of deaths to be “much lower” than what early models predicted.

As of early Friday, more than 466,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the CCP Virus, including over 160,000 people in New York state, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll from the virus pandemic rose to nearly 16,700.

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