An internal Army assessment in early February estimated that up to 150,000 Americans could be killed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • A briefing document put together by U.S. Army North and dated Feb. 3 said that “between 80,000 and 150,000 could die” of COVID-19, according to a Daily Beast report from James LaPorta and Spencer Ackerman.
  • On Wednesday, a briefing from the White House estimated that the U.S. death toll from the virus could be between 100,000 and 240,000
  • “In other words,” the Daily Beast report says. “The Army's projections on Feb. 3 for the worst-case scenario in the coronavirus outbreak are, as of this week, the absolute best-case scenario — if not a miraculous one.” 

  • The briefing document was seen by the head of U.S. Northern Command, and the head of Army North, per the Daily Beast; it was also sent to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff James McConville. It's unclear if it was passed further up the chain to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
  • Days after the Army assessment, President Donald Trump continued to downplay how serious the virus would be in the U.S. — tweeting on Feb. 24 that the virus is “very much under control in the USA,” and on Feb. 27 that there is “a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down.” 
  • Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in March — a month after the Army briefing — that the coronavirus is “not that severe.”

SEE ALSO: COVID-19 situation report: The latest coronavirus updates from the US military