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Trump gives his Sunday press briefing in the Rose Garden. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump asked Americans to continue social distancing until April 30, officials warned that tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans could die — and that's the least depressing scenario.

Why it matters: April is going to be very hard. But public health officials are in agreement that hunkering down — in our own homes — and weathering one of the darkest months in American history is the only way to prevent millions of American deaths.

The big picture: Because of early missteps by the Trump administration, the virus has already spread widely throughout the United States, undetected, and the number of cases in most major U.S. cities has skyrocketed.

  • We now must wait for the virus to run its course among those who are already sick, or have recently been exposed and fall ill in the next few days.
  • Even though the administration is urging adherence to its social distancing guidelines, many states still haven't shut down nonessential businesses or issued shelter-in-place orders, meaning the virus is still likely spreading in these areas.

By the numbers: Estimates now being echoed by the Trump administration have found that the U.S. coronavirus outbreak will peak in two weeks.

  • Deborah Birx, who's coordinating the White House coronavirus response, mentioned by name a model by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that predicts the demand for hospital beds and supplies — including ventilators — will far exceed supply on April 14.
  • On that day, 2,341 coronavirus deaths are expected in a single day.
  • The model predicts that 81,000 Americans will die over the next four months, and that's assuming strong adherence to social distancing measures.

The alternative is worse. Without social distancing, as many as 2.2 million Americans could die, Trump said yesterday — the number of deaths predicted by a report released earlier this month.

Between the lines: Even though the federal government and private companies are scrambling to manufacture more medical supplies, even under miraculous scenarios, it's too late to manufacture our way out of the shortages that are predicted over the next few weeks.

  • But health care workers and the federal government are getting creative with ways to stretch a limited supply, through measures like sanitizing and reusing masks and finding ways to use a single ventilator for more than one patient.

The bottom line: We should all expect the same harrowing stories from hospitals in Italy and China to be replicated here. At the same time, we'll be wading into uncharted economic territory.

  • And yet, we've never all had such an important role to play, as individuals, in mitigating a national crisis: staying home, and stopping the spread.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.