President Donald Trump has told advisers that he believes the coronavirus death toll is lower than what experts have calculated. According to sources with direct knowledge, some administration advisers agree with the president. 

A senior administration official said he soon expects the president to publicly question death toll calculations as the death toll rises close to the administration’s highest estimate. 

With more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, the death toll in the U.S. has passed 71,000. There is no evidence these figures have been exaggerated or inflated. Some experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, actually believe these figures are an understatement. 

People close to the president believe that the rising numbers unfairly created a distorting financial incentive for hospitals to identify coronavirus cases. Medicare has given hospitals a 20 percent bonus for treating coronavirus patients to offset the money lost in postponing non-COVID-19 treatments. 

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One White House official told Axios, “Skepticism isn’t the right way to frame it. The numbers have been revised up to include presumptive cases — meaning deaths that are believed to be related to COVID but not known for sure.”

“So he’s expressed the need to properly convey that to American people so they’re not startled by why numbers ticked up,” they added. 

Another official said, “With something like this virus, where you’ve got this weird coagulation in the lungs … we need more autopsies.” 

“America’s out of practice of how to deal with something like this and to report it accurately. … We don’t have uniform reporting standards in the United States or internationally. And we’re not getting good data.”


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