Top Biden Official: ‘I Certainly Expect’ U.S. Will Hit 500,000 Total COVID-19 Deaths In February
Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, testifies before the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Subcommittee hearing on "Community Perspectives on Coronavirus Preparedness and Response" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2020.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday that he expects the United States will reach 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by next month.

“The virus is going to get worse before it gets better,” Klain said Sunday morning. “I certainly expect we will hit 500,000 deaths sometime in the month of February. People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March. So it’s going to take a while to turn this around.”

“The virus is the virus; what we can do is act to control it, and that means getting these vaccinations moving, it means getting help to state and local governments to help reopen schools safely, to give people the protective gear they need,” said Klain.

Klain’s prediction squares with an assessment that Dr. Robert Redfield, the Trump administrations director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made back on December 10: “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor.”

According to the COVID-19 fatality tracker at The New York Times, there were 396,591 COVID-19 deaths reported in the United States as of Sunday afternoon, and 3,353 of those reported deaths occurred on Saturday, January 16. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 deaths tracker shows a similar death toll figure 397,258 deaths reported as of Sunday.

In a recent memo to incoming Biden administration senior officials, Klain said that the president-elect plans to take many executive actions in his first ten days in office, including enacting a federal mandate that masks be worn on federal property and when traveling between states on buses, trains, and airplanes. He also talked about Biden’s plan for a “100 Day Masking Challenge,” and Biden’s plan to continue a Trump administration policy halting payments and interest on federal student loans.

Klain also identified four crises Biden would begin to act on in his first ten days in office, including “the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.” As The Daily Wire previously reported:

Klain said that on the day after the inauguration, Biden will sign executive orders related to COVID-19 testing and also sign orders related to unspecified worker protections and public health standards. Then on January 22, wrote Klain, Biden plans to “direct his cabinet agencies” to take unspecified “economic relief” actions for families.

Other actions Biden plans to take in his first ten days include: Taking “significant early actions to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities,” taking an unspecified action toward “reforming our criminal justice system,” and signing climate change-related executive actions.

The memo was light on details but said more would be available in coming days.

Related: Team Biden Vows ‘Decisive Action’ On ‘Four Crises’ In First Ten Days

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