A scientific report from Imperial College London warned that 2.2 million people in the U.S. could die from the novel coronavirus if adequate precautions are not taken immediately. The report also estimated that 8-9% of people aged 80 or older could die if infected.

In response, the White House urged people this week not to gather in groups larger than ten people, stricter than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guideline of avoiding groups of more than 50 people.

The researchers emphasized the need for such restrictions until a vaccine becomes available, calling limiting large groups “the only viable strategy at the current time.”

The White House also recommended that people work from home, shop only when necessary and do not eat in restaurants, though many cities have already banned sit-in dining.

Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the White House coronavirus task force leaders, said during a press conference their new guidelines were based on research conducted in Britain.

“What had the biggest impact in the model is social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups,” Birx said. “The most important thing was if one person in the household became infected, the whole household self-quarantined for 14 days. Because that stops 100 percent of the transmission outside of the household.”

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Brix’s explanation aligned with the findings of the epidemic modeling group at Imperial College. The lead author of the study reportedly shared their findings with the White House task force about a week ago and sent an early copy of the study over the weekend.

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