500,000 coronavirus cases in the US as 2,000 patients die in one day
More than 2,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus died across the US on Friday – the highest number of fatalities seen so far.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US has now exceeded 500,000.
However, there are signs that Americans are increasingly staying at home to help reduce the number of new coronavirus infections.
Top economic officials in the Trump administration have expressed hope that businesses could start to reopen in May, but America’s top infectious diseases expert has warned against relaxing restrictions prematurely.
“Now is no time to back off,” Dr Anthony Fauci said.
In total, more than 18,600 people in the US have died after testing positive for the coronavirus – narrowly behind Italy, which currently has the highest number of fatalities worldwide.
Officials have warned that fatalities will likely peak this week and then start to decline.
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Evidence suggests that the number of new infections is flattening in New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed there were 777 new deaths in the state on Friday, a slight reduction on the day before.
But in more encouraging news, the number of new hospitalisations increased by just 290 – considerably less than last week, when over 1,000 admissions were regularly being made on a daily basis.
The number of intensive care patients in New York has also decreased slightly for the first time since the middle of March.
On Friday, President Donald Trump said that he believes the US will lose fewer than 100,000 lives to coronavirus – and he ordered the US government to provide medical supplies and humanitarian relief to Italy.
US government figures leaked to The New York Times have suggested that the total number of fatalities in the US could reach 200,000 if Mr Trump lifts shelter-in-place orders after 30 days.
The document also warned that coronavirus infectious could spike in the summer, but no specific dates were given.
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New data has suggested that black and Hispanic people in the US are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 – in part because they have poor access to healthcare.
In New York state, 17% of those who die from coronavirus are black, despite representing only 9% of the population.
And in Illinois, black residents have accounted for 42% of coronavirus-related deaths statewide, despite only accounting for about 14% of the state’s population.
New York City has begun digging extra graves in its public cemetery, with pictures showing pine caskets stacked on top of each other in a large burial pit.
It has hired labourers to bury people who have died after contracting the coronavirus and whose bodies have not been claimed.