Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Surpasses Italy in Total Number of Confirmed Deaths

The Four Percent


U.S. surpasses Italy in the total number of confirmed deaths.

The United States on Saturday surpassed Italy in the total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, reaching its deadliest day on Friday with 2,057 deaths. As of Saturday afternoon, the total stood at 20,110.

Already the pandemic has put more than 16 million out of work, forcing President Trump into the difficult choice of reopening the country as the country reels economically from the coronavirus pandemic.

Deaths in the United States per capita remained lower than in Italy, though some experts have warned that geography and population density have helped cushion the United States so far. To date, the virus has killed 19,468 in Italy, or 32 individuals per 100,000 people. In the United States, the number of deaths per 100,000 people was six.

The country’s death toll, which has more than doubled over the past week, is now increasing by nearly 2,000 most days.

As Mr. Trump grapples simultaneously with the most devastating public health and economic crises of a lifetime, he finds himself pulled in opposite directions. Bankers, corporate executives and industrialists are pleading with him to reopen the country as soon as possible, while medical experts beg for more time to curb the coronavirus.

Tens of thousands more people could die. Millions more could lose their jobs. And his handling of the crisis appears to be hurting his political support in the run-up to November’s election. Yet the decision on when and how to reopen is not entirely his. The stay-at-home edicts keeping most Americans indoors were issued by governors state by state.

The president did issue nonbinding guidelines urging a pause in daily life through the end of the month. And if he were to issue new guidance outlining a path toward reopening, many states would probably follow or feel pressure from businesses and constituents to ease restrictions.

But the central question is how long it will be until the country is fully back up and running.

The governors of Texas and Florida, both Republicans, have started talking about reopening businesses and schools in their states, echoing signals from Mr. Trump.

But the leaders of California and New York, both Democrats, are sounding more cautious notes about how quickly things can get back to normal.

“California’s curve is flattening,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Twitter post on Friday. “But that progress will only hold if we continue to STAY HOME and practice physical distancing.” And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that widespread testing for coronavirus antibodies would be required before his state could consider reopening nonessential businesses.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Friday that he wanted the state’s businesses to reopen sooner rather than later, insisting that the coronavirus had slowed its spread in some areas, and that it was not as prevalent in Texas as it was in New York, California and other hard-hit states.

Mr. Abbott said he would issue an executive order this week laying out the timetable and standards for reopening Texas businesses. “We want to open up, but we want to open up safely,” Mr. Abbott told reporters on Friday in Austin.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, said officials in his state were exploring reopening schools in May. But at the same time on Thursday, he made headlines by telling educators that he did not believe anyone under the age of 25 had died of the coronavirus. At least three children have.

At the White House coronavirus briefing on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said plans to reopen schools posed a risk of spreading infections.

“If you have a situation in which you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak and you allow children to gather together, they likely will get infected,” he said, adding that he was not speaking specifically about Florida.

In Texas, the governor’s announcement came as the state has yet to hit its peak in coronavirus cases; more than 12,000 Texans have tested positive, with 253 deaths. And it came just 10 days after he issued what is effectively a statewide stay-at-home order on March 31, long after most other states had done so.

Throughout January, as President Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — including top White House advisers and experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

Dozens of interviews and a review of emails and other records by The New York Times revealed many previously unreported details of the roots and extent of his halting response:

After weeks of concern about shortages in grocery stores and mad scrambles to find the last box of pasta or toilet paper roll, many of the nation’s largest farms are struggling with another ghastly effect of the pandemic. They are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell.

The closing of restaurants, hotels and schools has left some farmers with no buyers for more than half their crops. And even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food that was planted weeks ago and intended for schools and businesses.

The amount of waste is staggering. The nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. A single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week.

Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks and Meals on Wheels programs, which have been overwhelmed with demand. But there is only so much perishable food that charities with limited numbers of refrigerators and volunteers can absorb.

And the costs of harvesting, processing and then transporting produce and milk to food banks or other areas of need would put further financial strain on farms that have seen half their paying customers disappear. Exporting much of the excess food is not feasible either, farmers say, because many international customers are also struggling through the pandemic and recent currency fluctuations make exports unprofitable.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Paul Allen, co-owner of R.C. Hatton, who has had to destroy millions of pounds of beans and cabbage at his farms in South Florida and Georgia.

Top Republican congressional leaders said on Saturday that they would continue to push for a stand-alone infusion of $250 billion to replenish a fast-depleting loan program for distressed small businesses, rebuffing their Democratic counterparts who demanded conditions on the new money and additional funds for hospitals, state and local governments and food aid.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said in a joint statement on Saturday that their lawmakers “reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril.”

“This will not be Congress’s last word on Covid-19, but this crucial program needs funding now,” they wrote. “American workers cannot be used as political hostages.”

The administration requested quick action to approve the money to bolster a loan program created last month by the $2 trillion stimulus law for small businesses, known as the Paycheck Protection Program. But Democrats blocked an effort by Republicans to push it through the Senate on Thursday during a procedural session, demanding conditions on the new funds and additional aid for hospitals, state and local governments and food aid.

The National Governors Association on Saturday called on lawmakers to allocate at least an additional $500 billion for states and territories to address “budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from this unprecedented public health crisis.”

That amount is more than double what Democrats had proposed adding to the package, which was to be an interim step as lawmakers look toward a far larger package expected to top $1 trillion to build on the stimulus law.

The statement comes a day after both Democratic leaders — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader — spoke separately with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, about beginning bipartisan talks to break a stalemate over the funds. A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said Ms. Pelosi emphasized “that the initiative must not solidify the disparity in access to capital faced by many small businesses in underserved areas” and the need for more funds.

Republicans and Democrats alike support pouring more money into the program, which is meant to keep small businesses open without layoffs as the pandemic batters the economy. It has had a rocky rollout as the administration scrambles to implement the new policy, and small business owners have reported delays in receiving the funds. Economists have warned that more money will be needed to keep businesses afloat.

Some pastors are defying lawmakers over Easter Sunday services.

The facility had started noticing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the weeks before Ms. Morin’s death, but the company has said workers did not realize it was coronavirus until testing at the end of February found that the virus was spreading in the region and had reached the nursing home.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in King County Superior Court, accused Life Care of failing to properly report the outbreak, which is now linked to 43 deaths.

“There is some justice in knowing that they will now be obligated to provide the family with answers and account for their actions,” Ms. de los Angeles said in a statement.

Federal and state regulators inspected the facility in March and identified a range of problems, including a failure to notify state officials about the rise in respiratory infections and a failure to have a backup plan after the facility’s primary clinician fell ill. The company now faces a fine of more than $600,000 and other sanctions.

Tim Killian, a spokesman for Life Care, said the company couldn’t comment on the lawsuit. “Our hearts go out to this family and the loss they have suffered during this unprecedented viral outbreak,” he said.

Elizabeth Schneider hated to appear to be violating rules that were meant to protect others, and that she knew relied on collective determination to enforce.

But the state health department said people who had tested positive for the coronavirus were allowed to leave self-isolation seven days after their first symptom and three days after their last fever. By those metrics, she was free to fly to Tucson, Ariz., to visit her parents.

She would be more useful there, she had reasoned, as her family’s designated grocery shopper. Especially since her mother has asthma.

But re-entry to a society that is largely shut down can also come with a new sense of isolation, Ms. Schneider found.

“I thought to myself, ‘Should I mention to them that I had it?’” she said of her fellow passengers on her mostly empty flight. “Ultimately I chickened out.”

As recently as mid-March, fewer than 5,000 people in the United States had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Some are still coughing, or tethered to oxygen tanks. Many have died. But the first large wave of Covid-19 survivors, likely to be endowed with a power known to infectious disease specialists as adaptive immunity, is emerging.

They linger in grocery store aisles and touch doorknobs without flinching. They undertake not entirely essential travel. They have friends over. They hug. And they are sometimes guilt-ridden, about possibly having spread the disease before its existence was widely known, and about recovering when others did not.

Several dozen spoke to The New York Times about what it was like to recover.

The Rev. Leah Klug isn’t a stickler on religious rituals. As a hospital chaplain in the Seattle area, she makes do with the supplies she can find. Recently, she performed an anointing of the sick with mouthwash because she had no oil on hand. She is accustomed to reading psalms above the steady beep of a heart monitor.

Last month, she visited the room of a Covid-19 patient where she performed commendation of the dying. A nurse stood just outside, holding a phone on speaker so the woman’s family could say goodbye.

Ms. Klug lowered a container of oil toward the patient’s head. She read out a gospel verse. Then she suddenly felt a grief so profound that it seemed to swallow up her words. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” Ms. Klug recalled having thought to herself. “Her family is supposed to be here.”

As emergency rooms are flooded by coronavirus patients and I.C.U.s exceed their capacities, hospital chaplains are finding their jobs changing. Certified in clinical pastoral work and tending to people of all faiths, chaplains are no strangers to daily tragedies.

They serve as vessels for the grief and fear of patients and their families. They grasp the hands of the dying. When called upon, they deliver blessings to hospital workers.

But now chaplains are carrying more of their own grief and fear. Many worry about contracting with the virus and bringing it home to their families. They struggle to keep pace with new regulations that change how they minister to patients dying alone at a frequency that few have seen before.

“We are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, along with our patients and their families,” said the Rev. Katherine GrayBuck, a chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “My work usually brings me close to the end of life, and to death, but this is a whole new era.”

Reporting was contributed by Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes, Nicholas Fandos, David Yaffe-Bellany, Michael Corkery, Adam Goldman, Manny Fernandez, Amy Harmon, Emily Cochrane, Jason M. Bailey, Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Heather Murphy, Alan Rappeport, Giovanni Russonello, Adeel Hassan, Eliza Shapiro, Mike Baker, Tracey Tully, Emma Goldberg, Karen Schwartz, Sam Sifton, Marc Tracy, Lauren Leatherby and David Gelles.



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