As US economy weakens, state governors plan to reopen May 1

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WASHINGTON / NEW YORK (Reuters) – Governors of more than 20 states have spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic could start reopening their economies by President Donald Trump’s target date on May 1, said Wednesday a senior US health official, as new data illustrated the economic situation. and the human toll of the crisis.

FILE PHOTO: The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, testifies to the preparation and response to coronaviruses before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, March 12, 2020. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

Robert Redfield, director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency was ready to assist those states in the process of lifting restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

“There are a number of states – 19, 20 states – that have really had a limited impact. So I think we will see some states that are – the governors feel ready – we are ready to help them with this reopening, “said Redfield in an interview with” Good Morning America “.

State and local governments have issued “stay at home” or “place of refuge” orders affecting approximately 94% of Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Restrictions have hit the US economy, with mandatory business closings designed to limit the spread of the pathogen, leaving millions of Americans unemployed. With evidence that the outbreak is slowing in hard-hit states like New York, political leaders have launched into an acrimonious debate about trying to reopen the economy without paving the way for a second deadly wave of infections.

New government data released Wednesday gave another glimpse of the economic damage. Retail sales fell 8.7% in March, the government said, the largest drop since monitoring began in 1992. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.

In addition, production in US factories has declined the most since 1946, as the pandemic broke supply chains.

Economists believe the economy went into recession in March.

“The economy is almost in a free fall,” said Sung Won Sohn, professor of business economics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The death toll in the United States – already the highest in the world – has risen steadily. The death toll in the U.S. rose to 28,700 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters count, with more than 610,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. On Tuesday, the number of deaths in the United States peaked in just one day.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, the state considered the US epicenter of the pandemic, said 752 people had died there the day before – down slightly from the previous day but still high – even as hospitalizations declined .

“We have to build a bridge to reopen the economy,” Cuomo said in a press conference. “We are going to a different place – a new normal. “

TOLL FOR HEALTH WORKERS

Healthcare workers have faced unique health threats while working on the front lines of the pandemic. Reuters has identified more than 50 nurses, doctors and medical technicians who have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 or showing symptoms. At least 16 were in New York State.

“The emergency room is like a war zone,” said Raj Aya, whose wife Madhvi Aya – medical assistant in Brooklyn – was one of the deceased healthcare professionals in New York.

But in a sign of declining hospitalization, recruiting agencies that have deployed thousands of healthcare workers in recent weeks for jobs in New York and other hotspots have said that some of them were no longer needed.

The demand for “travel nurses” surged in March and early April in New York, New Orleans and other cities.

Anthony Fauci, Trump’s chief infectious disease adviser, said that the ability of states to reopen would depend largely on regional issues, including population density and other factors. At the very least, states would need to identify and isolate coronavirus patients and conduct a thorough contact search, or else they would risk an increase in cases, he said.

Medical workers intervene at the Maimonides Medical Center during the coronavirus disease (COVID19) outbreak in the Brooklyn district of New York, United States, April 14, 2020. REUTERS / Caitlin Ochs

“There is going to be a lot of variability,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” program in an interview aired on Wednesday. “It would likely be a phased entry,” with some states retaining home housing restrictions and others relaxing them.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $ 170 million initiative to feed residents in need on Wednesday. He has also run supermarkets and grocery stores in the most populous city in the United States to demand that their customers wear face covers when shopping.

Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, DC, extended the public health emergency for the US capital until May 15 and demanded masks for hotel employees and customers, people using taxis or carpooling and food vendors.

Reports Lucia Mutikani, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Maria Caspani, Lisa Shumaker, Gabriella Borter, Kristina Cooke and Jessica Resnick-Ault; Written by Will Dunham and Maria Caspani; Editing by Frank McGurty and Alistair Bell

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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