The White House said Friday the United States is making progress in the fight against COVID-19 sweeping the country, but officials added that African Americans and Hispanics are at particular risk.
"In the midst of grief and pain we are seeing clear signs that our aggressive strategy is saving countless lives," U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday at his daily coronavirus task force briefing, which is nationally televised.
While the death toll continues to rise, topping 18,000 victims on Friday, the number of hospitalizations are nearly flat in New York City, the virus's U.S. epicenter, the New York Times reported Friday.
Another sign of progress in the COVID-19 fight, Trump said, is that death toll forecasts are down to 60,000, from the previously projected 100,000 to 240,000.
"It looks like we're headed to a number substantially lower than 100,000" but "we'll have to see where we're at," Trump said.
Meanwhile, the virus is impacting "communities of color" at a disproportionate rate, White House officials noted.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams -- who is African American -- has noted that many communities of color, such as African American and Latino communities, have a large number of individuals suffering from asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Those health issues could make individuals "less resilient to the ravages of COVID-19," he said Friday, and that communities of color "have a higher incidence of the very diseases that put you at risk for severe complications of coronavirus."
However, he added that the issue is not genetic but rather social.
Those in communities of color are also more likely to live in densely packed areas and multi-generational households, he said, adding that such conditions are conducive to the virus's spread.
Adams emphasized that following government guidelines is especially important among the communities he mentioned, listing hand washing and social distancing.
"We can't fix these issues overnight" but will work hard to "move the needle" in the right direction, Adams said.