Washington, 5 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in the United States passed the 300,000 mark on Saturday, while more than 8,175 people have died from complications related to Covid-19.
US President Donald Trump warned that the coming weeks will likely be the hardest for the country.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” Trump said at a White House briefing, during which he also bashed media coverage.
He stressed the need to get back to work soon, without giving a date. “We have to open our country again,” Trump said, sounding frustrated.
Some 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the last two full weeks of March, signalling the real jobless rate has climbed into double digits, with more pain still expected.
Some 95 per cent of the people in the US are under forms of stay-at-home orders, with many non-essential businesses shuttered.
Trump had proposed ending stay-at-home guidelines and getting the economy up and running again by Easter, which is next weekend, but public health officials successfully pushed to have that date delayed by some weeks, amid a worsening outbreak hitting more areas.
The US has about 25 per cent of all global confirmed cases, though testing across the world is uneven. The data is based on a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The US had just 1,000 confirmed cases and about 30 deaths on March 10, and there is criticism that the White House and some state governments did not react quickly enough to stem the spread.
New York State remains the hardest hit area of the US, with more than a third of all cases and about 40 per cent of the deaths.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expects the state to see its peak caseload in about seven days.
“We are not yet at the apex. We are getting closer,” Cuomo said at a briefing in the state capital Albany, adding that this was good as it gave the authorities more time to prepare.
The governor thanked the Chinese government for facilitating the transfer of 1,000 ventilators which are being donated by Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, of internet giant Alibaba.
“This is a big deal, and this is going to make a significant difference for us,” Cuomo said. The western state of Oregon was also sending 140 ventilators.
Cuomo said 113,704 people in New York have tested positive for coronavirus, with 15,000 having been hospitalized. The state’s death toll on Saturday reached 3,565, up from 2,935 the previous day, a significant spike.
The state, like other areas of the US, is facing shortages of medical gear, including masks and ventilators. The US military is helping to expand hospital bed capacity.
There is concern from state and local officials that the White House in not coordinating the supply of medical goods to states, who end up competing with each other on the open market, causing prices to rise even as shortages persist.
Trump has tried to shift blame to the individual states for the lack of medical supplies, while claiming some are exaggerating their needs.