Coronavirus headlines: Death toll in United States surpasses 8,000


Saturday, April 4, 2020

11:00 p.m. update:

(CNN) — President Donald Trump on Saturday warned that “there will be a lot of death” in the coming weeks as the number of people who had died from the coronavirus in the United States surpassed 8,000.

“This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week,” the President said in a White House briefing Saturday.

“And there will be a lot of death, unfortunately. But a lot less death than if this wasn’t done,” he said, referring to certain mitigation tactics.

At least 1,324 deaths were reported in the United States on Saturday, the most coronavirus deaths reported in a single day thus far. At least 8,476 people have died nationwide and at least 311,301 people have been infected, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

White House experts earlier this week predicted at least 100,000 Americans could die from the virus, assuming residents strictly abide by federal social distancing guidelines.

Health officials urged Americans to continue following social distancing guidelines, with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases calling it “our most important tool.” He pointed to Washington state, where social distancing measures appear to be paying off.

“I want to actually just plea … to the American public, you know, as sobering and as difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference,” Fauci said. “So we really need to continue to do that.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the next two weeks will be crucial to flatten the curve.

“This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing your hands,” she said.

All but eight states have issued a form of stay-at-home orders though Fauci said earlier in the week he doesn’t understand why all states haven’t issued such an order.

The President has consistently said he would not issue a nationwide order. He reiterated Saturday he wouldn’t force the hands of eight governors, saying, “We have a thing called the Constitution.

9:00 p.m. update:

(CNN) — President Donald Trump on Saturday said he is considering a second coronavirus task force focused on reopening the country’s economy as pandemic cases rise across the United States.

Trump was asked about a tweet he’d sent earlier in the day responding to a tweet by Fox News anchor Dana Perino suggesting a second task force focused on the economy.

“Thinking about it, getting a group of people and we have to open our country,” he said. “You know, I had an expression, the cure can’t be worse than the problem itself. Right? I started by saying that and I continue to say it. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We got to get our country open,” Trump said.

White House officials in recent weeks have been considering opening up the economy while avoiding a health catastrophe as Trump has began agitating for a loosening of his guidelines to get the country back to work.

The discussions include a phased system based on age or geographic location, according to officials. Other options include a system that targets specific types of workers to return to work, including people who drive themselves and don’t work in large groups.

However, at the same briefing on Saturday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated that the social distancing guidelines have been working and are an “important tool” to stopping the spread of Covid-19, which must continue. Fauci recently called Trump’s desire to get businesses and Americans back to work by Easter an “aspirational projection.”

“Viruses transmit from people to people. When people are separated from each other the virus does not transmit — it doesn’t go anywhere and that’s the reason why something as simple as the physical separation … that’s our most important tool,” Fauci said Saturday. “But this is what we have to do. As sobering and as difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference so we really need to continue to do that.”

Meanwhile, the last three weeks have marked one of the most devastating periods in history for the American job market, as first-time claims for unemployment benefits have surged more than 3,000% since early March.

A new historic high of 6.6 million US workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, according to the Department of Labor.

6:15 p.m. update:

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Chinese government is facilitating a shipment of 1,000 donated ventilators to his state. The move highlights the extreme measures leaders are taking as they try to independently secure enough of the lifesaving devices. Cuomo says the U.S. government’s stockpile of medical supplies will fall short. But President Donald Trump said Saturday that his administration is assessing which areas have the most need, and that every decision is meant to save lives. The number of people infected in the U.S. has now exceeded a 300,000, with the death toll climbing past 8,100. 

4:30 p.m. update:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Intense global demand to get protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus battle is prompting states and hospitals to compete against themselves in a shady marketplace where prices are soaring. State governors across the U.S. have been pressing unsuccessfully for the federal government to centralize the process and stop the competition between states, their own hospital systems, other countries and the federal government itself. States say they have no choice but to pay inflated prices, calling it a matter of life and death.

3 p.m. update:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Authorities are clamoring to secure additional body storage wherever possible as U.S. officials estimate the death toll from the coronavirus could reach as high as 240,000. The need has been compounded by private mortuary space being occupied longer than usual as people wait to bury their loved ones — regardless of how they died — because of rules on social distancing making funeral arrangements difficult. Both public and private morgues have responded with increased demand for refrigerated trailers and trucks, hoping to have the space if they need it. 

1 p.m. update:

NEW YORK (AP) — Despite state and local limits on public gatherings, some faith leaders have persisted in holding in-person services — a matter of religious freedom, they say, as the nation approached its fourth Sunday battling the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement officials in Florida, Louisiana and Maryland took separate action this week against pastors who continue to hold in-person services in the face of stay-home orders in most states. But more than a half-dozen of those state orders provide a degree of exemption for religious activity, underscoring the political sensitivity of the decisions being made by states and localities.  

12:15 p.m. update:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Another cruise ship with coronavirus victims on board, including two fatalities, is docking in Florida. Princess Cruises spokeswoman Negin Kamali said in an email Saturday the Coral Princess ship is docking in Miami. The ship with 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members has been in limbo for days. As of Thursday, Kamali said seven passengers and five crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus. The cruise line says anyone in need of hospitalization will disembark first. Those fit to fly will begin leaving Sunday, while others who have symptoms of respiratory illness will remain on board until cleared by ship doctors.

11 a.m. update:

NEW YORK (WJW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is updating the public on the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The state of New York currently now has 113,704 cases of the coronavirus, which is the largest number in any US state. 15,905 people are hospitalized and 3,565 have died.

Governor Cuomo said the state is not at the apex yet, which is “good because we’re not yet ready.”

He also said the state will receive a donation of 1,000 ventilators from the Chinese government that is expected to arrive stateside later Saturday.

10 a.m. update:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Animal shelters across the U.S. say they’ve placed record numbers of dogs, cats and other animals as people suddenly find themselves stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. If past trends hold, many of those who agree to temporarily care for a pet will ultimately decide they want to keep the animal. Amid an avalanche of bad news, stories of people fostering pets are prompting smiles. A shelter in Denver now says it has a waiting list of 2,000 people wanting to foster. When the Animal Rescue League of Iowa put out a call for temporary homes for 80 cats, it got 160 applications within 12 hours.

9 a.m. update:

MOSCOW (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Russia says it is trying to arrange a charter flight to repatriate Americans but warns it could be the last flight for some time.

A planned Aeroflot flight to New York was cancelled while on the taxiway on Friday. Russia has banned all international airline flights, including those bringing Russians back to their homeland in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross advised Americans that if the charter flight happens “this will likely be the final charter opportunity to depart Russia.”

As of Saturday, Russia has reported 4,731 coronavirus infections and 44 deaths.

7:40 a.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — As the coronavirus spreads, state and federal health officials are taking action to protect Americans.

Ohio is now reporting more than 3,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 91 virus-related deaths. Cuyahoga County has the most with 13. Of Ohio’s, 73 percent did not require hospitalization.

In Cuyahoga County, 33 percent of the infections are among health care workers. 69 percent of the county’s critical care units have been utilized in the fight against the virus.

Not pictured: Guam (84), US Virgin Islands (38), Puerto Rico (378), Northern Mariana Islands (8). Map based on CNN stats as of April 4, 2020.

New guidance from the surgeon general asks all Americans to cover up their noses and mouths with non-medical face coverings in effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump announced Friday.

The President also shared that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has assessed more than 100 medical facilities across the country, including in Cleveland, and is ready to start building temporary hospitals.

The Ohio National Guard is working to double hospital bed capacities before the surge and hospitals throughout the step are stepping up even more.

Governor Mike DeWine announced Friday that the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio State University are beginning to produce tests in the state so that the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth Medical Center and OSU Wexner Medical Center can begin rapidly processing them. This is expected to be substantially faster than at the current private labs.

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