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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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COVID19 attack rate 14 in 1,000 in New York City: White House

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New York, April 8 : The coronavirus continues to attack nearly 14 in 1,000 people in New York City and 7 in 1000 across New York State on a day when this COVID-19 hotspot recorded its biggest single-day surge in death toll from the pandemic that has killed more than 12,700 Americans and sickened nearly 400,000 across 50 states.

Despite the sobering numbers, America’s top infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci remains confident that America will have the COVID-19 pandemic “under control” by Fall 2020.

New York State reported 731 new coronavirus deaths, taking the state toll to nearly 5,500 since its first COVID-19 death on March 13. The spike comes even as hospital admissions and intubations are slowing, which suggest that the city may be close to its peak death tally and levelling off.

The death tally is a “lagging indicator” that reflects the loss of people hospitalised around the time social distancing rules came into play.

New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus rose past 3,200 Tuesday, which is way more than those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“That’s 731 people who we lost. Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There’s a family, there’s a mother, there’s a father, there’s a sister, there’s a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers,” Cuomo said at a briefing Tuesday.

Later on the same day, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said the attack rate in New York continues to be the country’s highest.

She was speaking at the daily White House task force briefing.

Beyond the New York border, the numbers drop but remain concerning, she said.

The drop off in the attack rate in a series of communities outside the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas are creating “much flatter curves”, according to Birx.

New Jersey is at 4 per 1000, Louisiana 3 per 1000, Massachusetts and Connecticut are 2 per 1000, Michigan, Washington DC and Baltimore are at 1.5 per 1000, Pennsylvania is at 1 per 1000.

“We see across the country a different curve parameter,” Birx said. “It shows the amazing activity of Americans in those cities, following social distancing guidelines.”

Birx called for “less socialisation between households” and urged Americans not to go out for non-essential tasks for as long as they could avoid it. “Let’s do this as a mark of respect for our amazing frontline health care workers,” she said.

When asked about the next school season, Fauci cautioned that COVID-19 “is not going to disappear” but also said he remains optimistic that “we’ll be in good shape”.

By Fall 2020, Fauci said the decisions around re-opening schools and businesses will depend on the country’s ability to “identify, isolate, to contact trace”.

“By that time, with the antibody tests, we’ll have a better sense of the actual penetrance of this in society. How many people have really been infected? How many are vulnerable? All of these things are going to go into the decision on how much back to the normal you can go back to.”

According to Fauci, America’s new normal when it emerges from the worst phase of the crisis will be something “very different to what we are going through now”.

“When we go back to normal, we’ll go back to a way of life where we can function as a society. If you want to get to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen because the threat is there,” he said.

Fauci has cautioned that COVID-19 is showing all the signs that it could hit on a seasonal cycle and that a vaccine is the ultimate gamechanger. According to him, the most aggressive timeline could deliver a vaccine in “12-18 months”.

(Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at @byniknat)

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