The coronavirus death toll in the United States has increased to more than 4,000 – doubling in just three days – with more than 40 percent of the fatal cases coming from New York.
The number of deaths went up by 889 overnight on Tuesday to 4,076 – more than twice the 2,010 recorded late Saturday.
The US death toll has now surpassed the number of deaths reported in China (3,309) where the outbreak first emerged back in December.
America also has the most confirmed cases globally with the infection number rising to more than 189,000.
The death toll in Italy (12,428) and Spain (9,053) is still higher than the United States.
President Donald Trump has warned Americans to brace for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’ ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Trump called it ‘a matter of life and death’ for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
‘I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,’ Trump said. ‘This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country… We’re going to lose thousands of people.’
The jaw-dropping projections were laid out as officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. The model’s high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World War II.
Dr Tony Fauci, the country’s leading virus expert, called the numbers ‘sobering’ and urged Americans to ‘step on the accelerator’ with their collective mitigation efforts.
Trump’s comments came after he announced on Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that advise Americans to cease large gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.
It was an abrupt reversal for Trump who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans ‘pack the pews’ for Easter Sunday services.
Fears that the US is on track to become the new Italy, whose healthcare system has buckled under the weight of the pandemic, are fast becoming a reality.
The mounting crisis hit close to home for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday after he confirmed that his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, had tested positive for the virus.
New York, which is the epicenter of the US pandemic, recorded 76,049 confirmed coronavirus cases by the end of Tuesday and 1,550 deaths.
In New York City alone, there have been 1,096 deaths and 43,119 confirmed cases.
Dr Tony Fauci, the country’s leading virus expert, painted a grim picture for Americans on Tuesday when he warned that people should be prepared for 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus
President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’ ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained
Gov Cuomo admitted on Tuesday that ‘no one knows’ when the crisis will be over and said he was unifying the state’s private and public healthcare systems to operate as one before the pandemic ‘apex’ in the state hits.
Cuomo said the data is uneven and ‘bouncing’ so where it appears the death rates may be slowing, they are not yet.
‘It’s an imperfect reporting mechanism but the basic line is still up. We’re still going up,’ he said, adding that he was speaking to every expert he could find to rely on their projections and not ‘opine’ over what may happen.
He said he was ‘tired’ of being ‘behind’ the virus, adding: ‘We’ve been behind this virus from day one. The virus was in China. Unless we assume some immune system variation with Asian people, it was coming here. You don’t win playing catch up. We have to get ahead of it.’
He also said it was foolish to ‘underestimate your opponent’, continuing: ‘We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful and dangerous than we anticipated.’
The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, arrived in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals.
Field hospitals have also been set up in Central Park, the Javits Center and even in hotels like the Plaza and St Regis. The indoor tennis center that is the site of the U.S. Open tournament is being turned into a hospital as well.
Makeshift morgues have been put in place at various hospitals across the city as the death toll continues to rise and healthcare workers struggle to keep up with the body count.
The city also worked to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics to deal with a crush of emergency calls. The fire commissioner said ambulances are responding to double their normal daily total of 3,000 calls to 911. A five-day stretch last week was the busiest in the history of the city’s emergency services operation.
Nearly 80,000 former nurses, doctors and others are said to be stepping forward in New York as Gov Cuomo said officials are doing background checks for disciplinary actions and otherwise making sure they are fit for duty.
As for Gov Cuomo’s brother Chris, the TV host said he was diagnosed after he suffered from fever, chills and shortness of breath. He is currently isolated in his basement to remain away from his family and film his shows.
The hospital ship has been drafted in to help relieve the strain on local hospitals with its 1,000 beds and 1,200 personnel
Volunteers from the International Christian relief organization Samaritans Purse set up an Emergency Field Hospital for patients suffering from the coronavirus in Central Park across Fifth Avenue from Mt. Sinai Hospital on Tuesday
A body wrapped in plastic is unloaded from a refrigerated truck and handled by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns
Virus expert says all 50 states need to be on lockdown at the same time otherwise the coronavirus curve won’t flatten and predicts social distancing will continue for another 10 weeks – as Bill Gates warns failing to shut down is a ‘recipe for disaster’
It comes as a virus expert said that all 50 states in the United States need to be on lockdown at the same time to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said the entire country needs to better follow social distancing guidelines and implement lockdowns after the US government’s stark projection that there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
Public health officials have stressed that the death toll number could be less if people across the country adhere to strict social distancing.
In an interview with NBC’s Today on Wednesday, Dr Fair said insisting on social distancing was a ‘moot point’ unless the entire country was on a lockdown.
‘Until all 50 states do it, and they all do it at the same time, it’s really kind of a moot point,’ he said.
Dr Fair said the government’s latest projections were ‘best case scenarios’ if everyone was doing the same thing to help stop the spread of the virus.
‘That’s only going to happen if all 50 states are doing the same thing,’ he said. ’That’s why I’d really urge the Association of Governors to get together – everybody get on the same page as far as what they’re going to do and everybody implement the same measures.’
He said that if all states initiated a stay-at-home order, social distancing would need to continue for as many as 10 weeks.
‘Realistically, I think it is going to have to go on for 6 to even 10 weeks. That’s if everyone starts today,’ Dr Fair said.
‘If everyone is not doing it there are still going to be people spreading it. There are things we’re going to have to do – we have to go to the grocery store, we have to go to the pharmacy. There are people working in hospitals. But we can all do our own part and everyone has to do it. I think the police need to get involved in it just as far as implementing strict distancing measures.’
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who in 2015 predicted the world would soon face a pandemic, said failing to enforce a country-wide lockdown was a ‘recipe for disaster’.
In a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, Gates said the US had already ’missed the opportunity to get ahead’ but said it wasn’t too late for people to start mitigating.
Like Dr Fair, Gates said the US needs a ‘consistent nationwide approach to shutting down’ in order to stop the spread.
‘Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,’ Gates said.
He said no one should be continuing as usual or relax during the shutdown, estimating it could take 10 weeks for infection and death rates to start decreasing.
‘The choices we and our leaders make now will have an enormous impact on how soon case numbers start to go down, how long the economy remains shut down and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one,’ he wrote.
Currently, about 265 million Americans are now on stay at home orders to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Some states, however, are still refusing to order lockdowns with the governor of Missouri insisting it is down to ‘individual responsibility’. Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming also currently have no lockdown measures at a county or municipal level.
More than 80 percent of the US population are in lockdown after governors from Arizona and Tennessee joined other states in issuing stay-at-home orders effective Tuesday – the same day that the US death toll eclipsed China.
As of Tuesday, 32 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico were all in lockdown, with residents told to stay home except for essential workers or to go out for essential needs such as buying groceries or seeking medical attention.
The states with stay-at-home orders are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina – as well as the territory of Guam – do not have stay-at-home orders but have shuttered all non-essential businesses.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seemed to finally bow to pressure Monday and signed an executive order that all residents must remain in their homes from March 31 until at least April 30.
But several states are yet to take such action, which experts have warned is crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic.
Around 265 million Americans have now been ordered to stay at home to combat the spread of coronavirus but some states are still refusing to order lockdowns
Surgeon General says 30 days of lockdown will be long enough to stop coronavirus in some states but not everywhere as he warns the public to leave precious N-95 masks for healthcare workers
The US Surgeon General said on Wednesday that 30 days of social distancing would be long enough to slow the spread of coronavirus in some places but not everywhere.
In an interview on Good Morning America, Surgeon General Jerome Adams also warned the public not to use precious N-95 surgical masks in light of an update by the CDC that it is considering advising that everyone should wear a face covering when they go out.
‘The original 15 days was designed to slow the spread and for us to have some time to reassess.
‘We learned good and bad things. No state has been spared, but when you look at places like Washington and California that aggressively mitigated with social distancing, they were able to flatten their curve.
‘We’re looking at it as an opportunity for the entire country to say, if we do these things, we can flatten the curve.’
Asked if 30 days would be long enough, he replied: ‘It will be for some places. It won’t be for others, depending on where they are on their curve.’
The CDC had originally said that only people who have symptoms should wear the masks when they go out. Now, the government is weighing advising that everyone wears one, even if they don’t have symptoms, to avoid spreading the deadly virus.
Dr Adams, however, says it does not mean the public should rush to buy the coveted N-95 surgical grade masks that are in short supply around the nation’s hospitals.
‘Those must be reserved for the healthcare workers and the public can use other items to cover their faces. We’ve learned about this disease. We’ve learned there’s a fair amount of asymptomatic spread and whether or not people wear masks will prevent transmission to other people,’ he said.
‘But it can’t be at the expense of social distancing. The most important thing for people to do is to stay at home. The final point I’d make is if you’re going to wear a face covering, you still don’t need an N-95 mask and if you take one, you may be taking it out of the hands of a healthcare worker who desperately needs it to treat patients.’
President Trump has now suggested people should wear scarves to cover their faces when they go out.
‘You could get a mask, but most people have scarves and scarves are very good and they can use a scarf and we’re only talking about a limited period of time,’ he said on Tuesday.
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