A federal infectious disease official issued an ominous warning Sunday as New York state approached 1,000 deaths and U.S. fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic climbed above 2,300.
The U.S. death total has doubled in two days. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a leading voice in the effort to curb the outbreak, says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die before the crisis is over.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing “extensive community transmission” of COVID-19 in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, late Saturday urged residents to refrain from non-essential travel for 14 days effective immediately. The advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries such as trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply.
“Just a little bit of separation can stop a fire from spreading,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.
The U.S. counted more than 136,000 cases of coronavirus by Sunday afternoon, the world’s highest total, and there were nearly 2,400 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More confirmations are expected as the U.S. continues to ramp up testing.
More than 710,000 people are known to have been infected with COVID-19 globally, and more than 33,000 have died.
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Fauci: Millions of Americans will be affected, many thousands will die
Millions of Americans will be infected by the coronavirus before the crisis is over and 100,000 to 200,000 could die, a leading infectious disease expert said Sunday. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN’s State of the Union that computer models generally overestimate the final numbers, but that “we are going to have millions of cases.”
It has been two weeks since President Donald Trump announced his 15-day guidelines for social distancing and other measures aimed at containing the outbreak. Fauci said the White House task force will take up the issue soon, and that those guidelines probably will be extended.
“It’s going to be a matter of weeks, it’s not going to be tomorrow,” Fauci said. “It’s certainly not going to be next week.”
Trump last week said he hopes the country can return to some semblance of normalcy by Easter, April 12.
New York deaths surge close to 1,000
As the number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York state gets closer to 1,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to prepare residents for the bleak reality that the figure could represent a small fraction of what’s ahead.
Cuomo said the latest total of deaths — 965 people as of Sunday, up 237 deaths in one day — combined with the rising number of positive cases will likely lead to a significant increase in casualties.
“I don’t see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away,” Cuomo said. “Remember who it’s attacking … I don’t see how you get past that curve without seeing thousands of people pass away. I hope it’s wrong.”
The majority of the deaths, 678 of them, were in New York City. Cuomo warned that while the city is the most acute problem, the death toll will grow in the coming weeks across the state and the nation, calling it a “rolling apex.”
— Georgie Silvarole, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
All cities should brace for NYC-type outbreak
Metro areas across the nation must assume they “could have an outbreak equivalent to New York and do everything right now to prevent it,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said. Birx called on local officials to “know where every piece of equipment is.”
“Mitigate it now, before they start seeing cases in the emergency room and in the hospital. Once you see those, the virus has been spreading days to weeks,” Birx said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is my call on every mayor to prepare now.”
New York City has become the epicenter of the U.S. spread of the coronavirus.
One healthcare expert warns that “New York is not an outlier” and the virus is on track to hit “every city in America.”
– Lorenzo Reyes
US begins airlifting medical supplies from abroad
The Trump administration is airlifting medical supplies from Asia and other parts of the world to areas of the United States hardest hit by the coronavirus, the White House said. A flight from Shanghai carrying more than 10 million surgical gloves, 130,000 N-95 masks and other equipment landed Sunday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It was the first of what is expected to be about 20 flights over several weeks.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in a statement that the flights would bring “massive amounts of masks” and other gear to “better equip our health care workers on the front lines.” The effort comes as state and local officials say hospitals are running short of medical equipment needed by front-line health workers dealing with the pandemic.
– John Fritze
Big outbreak in Maryland nursing home
Sixty six residents of a nursing home in Mount Airy, Maryland, have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 11 of those residents are currently hospitalized, the state announced.
“Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department and the facility as they take urgent steps to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed,” a statement from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said a resident of the Pleasant View Nursing Home, a man in his 90s with underlying health conditions, has died..
Hogan said coronavirus cases in Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland and Virginia around it have increased from 1,000 to 2,000 in three days.
— Erick Smith
3 NYPD members die in 48 hours
A detective has become the third New York Police Department worker to die as a result of COVID-19 in two days. Detective Cedric Dixon was a 23-year veteran stationed in Harlem, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. Dennis Dickson, a custodian at police headquarters, died Thursday, and Administrative Assistant Giacomina Barr-Brown died Friday.
“We’ve lost three members of the NYPD family,” Shea said. “Today we are all mourning and hurting together, as a family. When we emerge from this crisis, let us never forget the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
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Italy marks 10,000 deaths; Spain faces deadliest day
Italy’s death toll rose above 10,000 after 889 Italians died Saturday from COVID-19, authorities said. The daily number was down from Friday’s record of 969 deaths.
“History does not wait, we must live up to it,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. “The coronavirus emergency response must be strong, vigorous and cohesive. I will fight for Italian citizens until the last drop of sweat.”
Officials in Spain announced a daily record of 838, bringing that nation’s total to more than 6,500.
Trump backs off quarantine proposal
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped suggestions by Trump that he might institute a ban on New Yorkers’ travel to other states amid the outbreak. “It would be a federal declaration of war on states,” Cuomo said. Late Saturday, Trump apparently backed off the idea. He tweeted that “a quarantine will not be necessary” and that he was opting instead for the CDC’s travel advisory.
Governors in Texas, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina have ordered people arriving from the New York area – including New Jersey and Connecticut – and other virus hot spots to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.
– Joseph Spector
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Chicago jail: 89 detainees, 12 officers test positive
Eighty-nine detainees at Chicago’s Cook County jail have tested positive for COVID-19, and tests are pending on 92 more, Sheriff Thomas Dart announced. Nine inmates tested negative. Twelve sheriff’s office employees also have tested positive, Dart said. The first two positive cases were revealed Monday. The jail currently houses about 5,000 inmates, down more than 400 from a week ago because of efforts to free non-violent offenders and those near completion of their sentences. The facility is the nation’s largest single-site jail.
Kroger supermarkets on hiring spree
The Kroger supermarket chain will hire 20,000 more employees to meet the demand for groceries and other supplies sparked by the coronavirus crisis.
Kroger, which has shortened the time between an employee applying for a job and starting work to as little as three days, says this latest hiring surge will take place over the next few weeks.
— Charisse Jones
50 TSA screening officers, 19 staffers test positive
Fifty TSA screening officers and 19 additional TSA employees across the nation have tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks, the agency announced. The officers work at 18 airports in 14 states. The 19 additional employees were not involved in the passenger-screening process and have relatively limited interaction with the traveling public, TSA said.
The announcement on the Department of Homeland Security website provides a map that show the airports where TSA officers have tested positive. New York (21) and New Jersey (five) continue to have the highest number of positive tests. The first TSA case was confirmed at Mineta San Jose International Airport in late February.
– Hannah Yasharoff
Hospital ship bound for New York City
A Naval hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, left Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday for New York City to help combat the coronavirus. Speaking from a pier at Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday, Trump called the USNS Comfort “a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York.”
Trump said the naval hospital ship is equipped with 12 operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, radiology, CAT-scan equipment, two oxygen-producing plants and a helicopter deck. “It’s stocked to the brim with equipment, medicines and everything you can think of,” he said.
Coronavirus patients won’t be treated on the ship, Trump said. Instead, it will be used to treat New Yorkers who don’t have the virus but still require urgent care.
The ship was not scheduled to leave for New York Harbor for another three weeks, but officials pushed up its departure date because of the rapid spread of the virus.
– Michael Collins
USA TODAY investigates
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• The US had a chance to learn from anthrax, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. So why is the federal coronavirus response so messy?
• ‘On-the-job emergency training’: Hospitals may run low on staff to run ventilators for coronavirus patients.
• A secretive cache of medical supplies to save Americans from deadly disasters for years lacked the funding to prepare for a pandemic, former managers of the stockpile told USA TODAY.
• The coronavirus test that wasn’t: Federal health officials misled state scientists and derailed the best chance at containment. Read our investigation.