US coronavirus deaths top 5,000, with 1,000 in one day

The United States has reported more than 1,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period, moving its total death count to more than 5,000 as of Thursday morning, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. 

The rapid increase in deaths comes as President Trump and administration health officials warn of a “very painful” two-week period in which confirmed cases and deaths are expected to continue to climb. The White House on Tuesday warned that between 100,000 and 240,000 people could die from COVID-19 in the U.S. even if social distancing requirements remained intact. 

The New York City metropolitan area, which has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has reported more than 1,374 deaths from the disease. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said at a Wednesday press conference that the state could see as many as 16,000 deaths according to one projected model. 

Cuomo emphasized, however, that the projection predicted 93,000 Americans would die, meaning that this outbreak would soon hit many other states in the same way it is impacting New York. 

“If you believe these numbers, 16,000 deaths in New York, that means you’re going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York,” he said. “[The projections say] it’s a New York problem today. Tomorrow, it’s a Kansas problem and a Texas problem and a New Mexico problem.”

Dozens of states have announced stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders in an effort to help slow the disease’s spread. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) became one of the latest governors to implement the measure on Wednesday after initially showing reluctance. Florida had reported more than 7,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Top U.S. health officials have increasingly warned that the effects of the virus will continue to worsen in the upcoming weeks. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on Sunday that no city or state would be spared by the outbreak and that every governor and mayor should prepare as if they were New York. 

She and Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, have singled out the Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas as places where the virus is quickly worsening. 

About 81 percent of Michigan’s confirmed cases were reported in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, areas surrounding Detroit, as of Wednesday, according to Detroit has been a high-concentration area for the virus due to factors including population density, community spread and more aggressive testing.

The novel coronavirus, which first appeared in China in December, has infected more than 940,000 people worldwide and caused roughly 47,500 deaths. Italy has reported the most deaths of any country, with its tally reaching 13,155 on Thursday.

Vice President Pence acknowledged on Wednesday that the U.S. outbreak was showing signs of taking a similar path as Italy’s. 

“Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States,” Pence said while appearing on CNN.  

Pence argued that the U.S. response to the outbreak could have been better had China “been more forthcoming” about the spread. He credited Trump’s handling of the response, highlighting that he set up the White House coronavirus task force and restricted travel from China in late January.

Trump has faced criticism from several Democratic lawmakers and state officials for failing to more proactively respond to the crisis. Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the disease in late February and early March, at one point claiming it would disappear “like a miracle.” 

He also late last month began pushing for reopening U.S. businesses by Easter Sunday, on April 12, over fears about the economy, but he shifted his stance this week, saying that slowing the pandemic takes priority over the economy. 

The Trump administration extended its guidelines urging people against nonessential travel and gatherings of more than 10 people through the end of April, though Trump has so far resisted calls to issue a national stay-at-home order. 

As confirmed cases climb, some governors continue to express warnings about the lack of medical equipment in their hospitals. Governors from Illinois to Connecticut have said that they’re facing shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators amid an uptick in patients. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said that his state has received just 10 percent of the medical equipment its asked for from the federal government, noting it’s led him to compete with other states on the open market for supplies. 

Cuomo said the situation was akin to every U.S. state getting on eBay for a bidding war for critical supplies.

News [email protected] THEHILL