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US passes a million coronavirus cases

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This is a third of the global total.

Washington/New York – The number of

confirmed US coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Tuesday –

representing a third of the global total – even as some states

eased restrictions in the face of an economy battered by the

pandemic.

With President Donald Trump’s economic adviser forecasting

an unemployment rate of more than 16% for April and many

Americans chafing under stay-at-home orders, about a dozen

states were moving to restart their economies despite a lack of

large-scale virus testing.

Public health experts have warned that a premature rollback

of social-distancing policies could cause a surge in new

infections.

More than 56,500 Americans have died of Covid-19, the

respiratory illness caused by the virus, with an average of

about 2 000 a day this month, according to a Reuters tally.

The number of confirmed US coronavirus infections passed 1

million and has doubled in 18 days. The actual number of US infections is believed to be higher than the confirmed number of

cases, with state public health officials cautioning that

shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing

capacity, leaving many infections unrecorded.

About 30% of the American cases have occurred in New York

state, the epicenter of the US outbreak, followed by New

Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania. The virus

was first reported late last year in China and has spread

worldwide. The earliest-known US deaths were in February.

Georgia, at the vanguard of states reopening businesses, on

Monday permitted restaurant dining for the first time in a

month. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Monday he would let

the state’s stay-at-home order expire and begin reopening

businesses including restaurants and retail shops in phases

beginning on Friday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with Trump at the White

House and said he would make an announcement on Wednesday about

how to relax restrictions in his state. DeSantis said he would

review his state’s task force report before making his

announcement.

The governors of other states, including New York, have put

off easing restrictions out of concern they might fuel a second

wave of infections.

“Everyone is talking about reopening. I get it,” said New

York Governor Andrew Cuomo, adding any decision should not be

made based on politics or emotions or in reaction to protests.

“We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting

more people or overwhelming the hospital system,” Cuomo told his

daily briefing, adding that his state’s death toll had grown by

335 in the last day.

Squadrons of US Navy Blue Angels jets and US Air Force

Thunderbirds jets performed a joint flyover in the sky above New

York City in a tribute to frontline responders and essential

workers fighting the pandemic. The planes also were flying over

New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for the

country’s business sector, called for consistency across

federal, state and local governments to reopen the economy but

urged against any public health guidelines becoming regulations

that could harm businesses as they seek to restart.

74 000 US DEATHS FORECAST

The University of Washington’s model, often cited by White

House officials and state public health authorities, upwardly

revised its projected US coronavirus death toll to more than

74 000 people by August 4, compared with its previous forecast of

67 000.

The university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

said late on Monday that the number of US deaths caused by the

virus was not abating as quickly as previously projected after

hitting a daily peak on April 15 with about 2 700.

While most states seem to have passed their peaks in the

pandemic, seven – Hawaii, Mississippi, Texas, Wyoming, Utah,

Nebraska and North Dakota – may be experiencing their peaks now

or in the coming weeks, the model showed.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits over

the past five weeks has soared to 26.5 million, underscoring the

pandemic’s economic impact. Chuck Schumer, the top US Senate

Democrat, said on Tuesday that state and local governments will

be forced to make “massive” layoffs if Congress fails to act

soon to provide financial assistance to help them deal with the

costs of addressing the pandemic.

In another sign of the impact of the pandemic on the

functioning of the nation, the US House of Representatives

will not return to Washington next week as planned, Majority

Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday. Hoyer said House leaders

received a warning from the chamber’s physician that there is a

health risk to lawmakers amid a still-rising number of

infections in the US capital.

Reuters