Confirmed coronavirus cases have exceeded 1.1 million worldwide, with the United States firmly at the center of the global pandemic and preparing for the country’s toughest weeks.
White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx said in a White House briefing that modeling shows that New York, Detroit and New Orleans – and the areas around those cities – are likely to peak of their epidemics in the next six to seven days.
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She refused to predict how many people could perish in these cities, noting that each place is different. But she said New York saw several hundred deaths a day and officials said the figure could increase in the range of 500 to 700 people a day.
“This is very concerning for us,” said Dr. Birx.
Government officials are closely monitoring an increase in cases in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, DC, she said, explaining that experts hope social distancing in these locations could prevent these areas from seeing the same level of spread that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and part of Rhode Island have.
“The next two weeks are extremely important,” she said.
“Now is the time to do everything you can,” said Dr. Birx later during the briefing, “Do everything you can to keep your family and friends safe. “
“Unfortunately there will be many deaths,” said President Trump during the briefing. But he added that there would be fewer deaths than there would have been without the federal government’s response to stop the spread of the virus.
The United States has more than 300,000 cases, and New York State is the hardest hit with nearly 114,000 cases on Saturday. In the United States, more than 8,100 people have died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins. About half of them are in New York, said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s like a spreading fire,” Cuomo added on Saturday.
Most states now have residence orders, with the governors of Alabama and Missouri announcing such restrictions on Friday.
On Friday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all people wear face coverings in public, especially in hot spots with high transmission rates. Officials urged people to reserve N95 surgical masks and respirators for medical first responders and instead encouraged the use of scarves, bandanas, or other cloth covers. Trump called the advisory a “voluntary” mask and said he did not expect to wear one himself.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the crematoriums are now operating 24 hours a day and the city issued a wireless emergency alert on Friday asking any authorized medical personnel to volunteer to fight the virus.
Tens of thousands of people outside the state had already done so before this call was made, and they and local health professionals who volunteered are now matched with hospitals asking for help, said Mr. Cuomo.
The governor has warned that New York is likely about a week from its peak workload when hospitals, health workers and supplies are closest. The state now has 113,704 cases, up from nearly 11,000 in the last day, Cuomo said. The death toll rose to 3,565, a day-long jump from 630.
New York State is struggling to get enough fans, the most requested hospital item in the fight against the virus. The Chinese government has helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 fans, which will arrive on Saturday, said Cuomo. He also thanked the federal government for its assistance in converting the Javitz Center in Manhattan into a 2,500-bed hospital for Covid-19 patients.
At the White House press conference on Saturday, Trump said 1,000 military personnel are being sent to New York to help respond to the coronavirus. He said he had sent them and they would go “where they need it most”.
The president also criticized many states for asking for too much federal aid, saying that the federal government was there to serve as a “backup” for the states.
New Jersey now has more than 34,000 confirmed cases, followed by Michigan, California and Massachusetts. At a press conference on Saturday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that the death toll from coronavirus now dwarfs the death toll from the September 11 terrorist attack by more than 100. He asked people to continue to practice social distancing, despite the desire to gather for Easter and Passover in the coming week.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Saturday that the state would increase testing. So far, 126,700 people have been tested, a number that Newsom says is not enough. The state has more than 12,600 confirmed cases, the governor said on Saturday.
The state has partnered with the University of California, Davis and San Diego to create a minimum of five to seven test centers across the state.
“I have a responsibility as a governor to do better and more testing in the state of California,” Newsom said in a press conference on Saturday.
American medical experts and the White House have estimated that the national death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could reach 100,000 to 240,000.
At the same time, governments around the world have further tightened the limits of social activity, with the death toll exceeding 63,900 worldwide.
In Spain, 124,736 people tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data updated on Saturday morning, more than anywhere else after the United States. To date, 11,744 people have died there.
But in Italy, long at the center of the epidemic, the infection rate is slowing. As of Friday evening, 119,827 cases of infection were confirmed, up 3.9% from the previous day, indicating that the strict social distancing measures put in place more than three weeks ago are having an impact.
The official death toll in Italy remains the highest in the world, however, with 14,681 people confirmed dead. But as elsewhere, many people – infected and dead – are not counted.
China, where the new virus first appeared at the end of last year, is slowly returning to normal after lifting one of the longest and most severe blockages in the world. According to Johns Hopkins data, the country has recorded more than 82,500 cases – now surpassed by those of the United States, Italy, Spain, Germany and France – and the rate of spread has slowed down.
President Xi Jinping and other leaders gathered in Beijing on Saturday to observe three minutes of silence as part of a national day of mourning for the victims of Covid-19.
Write to Melissa Korn at [email protected] and to Newley Purnell at [email protected]