Two days after the top U.S. immunologist warned the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could surpass 100,000, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that it has received a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to round up 100,000 body bags from Department of Defense contractors.
"The Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities from DLA's industrial partners during crisis response operations," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews wrote in an emailed statement. "DLA is currently responding to FEMA's prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies."
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a White House news conference with President Trump that more than 100,000 people in the U.S. could perish in the coronavirus pandemic.
"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," Fauci said as he urged Americans to practice social distancing to help mitigate the impact of the outbreak. "This is not a number we need to accept. We can influence this to a varying degree."
Calling new estimates 0f death tolls even with social distancing ranging from 100,000 to 240,000 in the U.S. "very sobering," Trump suggested on Tuesday that fatalities could well rise above 100,000.
"When you see 100,000 people and that's a minimum number," Trump said, "and they said it's unlikely you'll be able to attain that, think of what would have happened if we didn't do anything."