A health worker in a protective gear takes a blood sample from a woman at the makeshift in Lalitpur, Nepal. Reuters
New York's coronavirus death toll topped 10,000 even as the lack of fresh hot spots in the US or elsewhere in the world yielded a ray of optimism and fueled discussions Monday about how some places might begin to reopen.
The brunt of the disease has been felt most heavily in New York, Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, but grim projections of a virus that would spread with equal ferocity to other corners of America and the world have not yet materialized after more than a month of measures meant to blunt its impact. Even so, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 2 million on Monday.
The death toll in populous states such as Florida and Pennsylvania was on par with some individual counties outside New York City. Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city and a hub for immigrant communities and business travellers in the energy industry, has been largely spared compared to other parts of the US As Colorado deaths surpassed 300 on Monday, Gov. Jared Polis compared that figure to New York's thousands and called it "a tragic indication of our success in Colorado.”
Officials around the world worried that halting quarantine and social-distancing measures could easily undo the hard-earned progress that those steps have achieved in slowing the spread.
Still, there were signs countries were looking in that direction. Spain permitted some workers to return to their jobs, while a hard-hit region of Italy loosened its lockdown restrictions. Governors on both coasts of the US announced that they would join forces to come up with a coordinated reopening at some point, setting the stage for a potential conflict with President Donald Trump, who asserted that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to reopen.
Trump continued those assertions during an afternoon White House briefing on Monday, pushing back against reporters' questions about whether the president or governors have the authority to ease the restrictions. He said his administration has "a very good relationship” with the governors, but "the federal government has absolute power” in that decision-making process if it chooses to exercise it.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the briefing that he expects more than 80 million Americans will have tax rebates directly deposited into their bank accounts by Wednesday. Under the program, single filers will receive $1,200 and joint filers $2,400, though it phases out for higher incomes. The rebates are aimed at boosting the economy as the country responds to the coronavirus.
New York saw a few positive signs Monday even as it reached another bleak milestone. It marked the first time in a week that the daily toll dipped below 700. Almost 2,000 people were newly hospitalized with the virus Sunday, though once discharges and deaths are accounted for, the number of people hospitalized has flattened to just under 19,000.
"This virus is very good at what it does. It is a killer,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Italy's day-to-day increase in infections was one of the lowest in weeks, bolstering a generally downward trend. Slightly eased restrictions were about to take effect in some sectors of the country, such as allowing stores selling necessities for newborns to reopen.
In hard-hit Spain, workers were permitted to return to some factory and construction jobs as the government looked to restart manufacturing. Retail stores and services were still required to stay closed, and the government required office workers to keep working from home.
Some health experts and politicians argue that it’s premature to ease the lockdown in a nation that has suffered more than 17,750 deaths and reported more than 170,000 infections, second only to the United States’ nearly 683,000 infections.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said Monday that he would proceed with "the utmost caution and prudence ... and always based on scientific evidence.”Agencies
A total of 75,538 deaths have been recorded, including 53,928 in Europe, the continent worst hit by the virus. The official tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of cases. Many countries are testing only the most serious cases.
More than 242,000 people have been killed and 3.4 million infected worldwide by the virus, which has left half of humanity under some form of lockdown and pushed the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Worldwide, more than 788,000 people have been infected and 166,000 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy's death toll rose to nearly 11,600 — the highest in the world by far — but its rates of new infections were slowing.
A medical staffer at the hospital said that the man died due to severe injuries and fractures that he sustained in the accident.
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