New York State now has more cases of coronavirus than any other country outside the United States, according to the latest figures.
The number of cases confirmed by the state of Covid-19 jumped from 10,000 Thursday to 159,937, placing it ahead of Spain (153,000 cases) and Italy (143,000).
China, where the virus emerged last year, has reported 82,000 cases.
The United States as a whole has recorded 462,000 cases and nearly 16,500 deaths. Globally, there are 1.6 million cases and 95,000 deaths.
While New York State is the world leader in coronavirus cases, its death toll (7,000) is lower than that of Spain (15,500) and Italy (18,000), although it is more than double the official figure for China (3,300).
Photos appeared of workers in hazardous materials outfits burying coffins in a mass grave in New York.
Drone footage showed workers using a ladder to descend into the huge pit where the coffins were stacked.
The images were taken at Hart Island, off the Bronx, which has been used for over 150 years by city authorities as a mass burial site for those with no close relatives or families who cannot not afford a funeral.
According to the Ministry of Correctional Services, burial operations at the site intensified during the pandemic, from one day a week to five days a week.
Rikers Island prisoners generally do the work, but the increasing workload has recently been taken on by contractors.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week that the city’s public cemetery could be used for burials during the pandemic.
“Obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island,” he said.
The number of coronavirus deaths in New York State rose to 799 on Wednesday, a record for a third day.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo was pleased that the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to New York hospitals fell for a second day to 200.
He said it was a sign that social distancing was working. He called the epidemic “a silent explosion that spreads through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on September 11”.
Another glimmer of hope was announced Thursday as official national death toll projections were cut.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus task force, told NBC News Thursday that the final number of Americans who will die from Covid-19 in the epidemic “looks more like 60,000” .
In late March, Dr. Fauci estimated that “between 100,000 and 200,000” could die.
The projection of 60,000 would be the highest estimate of the total number of deaths from influenza in the United States between October 2019 and March 2020, according to government data.
But vice president Mike Pence said Thursday that Covid-19 is about three times more contagious than the flu.
The White House previously announced that 2.2 million Americans could die from the coronavirus if nothing was done to stop it from spreading.
Meanwhile, home orders have closed non-core businesses in 42 states, while significantly slowing the US economy.
New data on Thursday showed that jobless claims exceeded 6 million for the second consecutive week, bringing the number of unemployed Americans in the past three weeks to 16.8 million.
Chicago has imposed a curfew on liquor sales starting at 9:00 pm local time on Thursday to end the continuing violation of a ban on large gatherings.
The measure, which is expected to remain in effect until April 30, comes after health officials said this week that black Chicagoans account for half of all city of Illinois coronavirus cases and more than 70 % of its deaths, although they represent only 30% of the population.
“We are putting in place this curfew because too many individuals and businesses have violated the order to stay at home,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday.
Armed violence in Chicago on Tuesday left seven people dead and 14 injured, which city officials said was unforgivable given the virus crisis.
“Each of these emergency beds taken by a gunshot victim could be someone’s grandmother, someone with pre-existing conditions, someone who risks losing their life due to the pandemic,” said said Superintendent Charlie Beck.
Figures from Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Wisconsin and New York reflect the same racial disparity in coronavirus infections.
The presumed Democratic candidate for the White House, Joe Biden, joined growing calls for the publication of comprehensive race data on the pandemic on Thursday.
He said he had highlighted the inequalities and the impact of “structural racism”.
Meanwhile, a court has blocked parts of the Texas temporary abortion ban that the state announced last month citing the coronavirus epidemic.
The ordinance prohibiting “medically unnecessary” procedures was introduced to reserve precious medical resources for those who treat Covid-19 only, said the state’s attorney general in March.
But Justice Lee Yaekel, appointed by George W. Bush, on Thursday issued a temporary ban order against the ban.
“At a minimum, it is an undue burden on a woman’s right to a foreseeable abortion,” he wrote in his ruling.
Alabama, Iowa, Ohio and Oklahoma have introduced similar abortion bans.
Although there is still no vaccine against Covid-19, the American cultural wars have proven to be just as incurable.
Legal battles have also broken out over whether gun stores should be closed during the pandemic and whether religious services should be exempt from state orders prohibiting large gatherings.