US death toll from the virus eclipses China's official count

US death toll from the virus eclipses China's official count

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States — The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,500 Tuesday, eclipsing China's official count, as the deepening crisis in New York hit close to home for the governor when he disclosed, teary-eyed, that his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has become infected.

“But there's a lesson in this,” Gov Andrew Cuomo said of his 49-year-old brother, now quarantined in his basement. “He's an essential worker, a member of the press so he's been out there. If you go out there, the chance that you get infected is very high."

Elsewhere around the world, hard-hit Italy reported that the infection rate appears to be levelling off and new cases could start declining, but that the crisis is far from over. Spain, too, struggled to fend off the collapse of its hospital system. Vladimir Putin's Russia moved to crack down on quarantine violations and “fake news” about the outbreak. And China edged closer to normal as stores in the epicentre city of Wuhan began reopening.

Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 39,000 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the US had around 3,550 by midday, overtaking China's official toll of about 3,300.

New York was the nation's deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.

A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds that docked in New York on Monday was expected to begin accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday. A 1,000-bed emergency hospital set up at the Javits Convention Centre began taking patients Monday night. And the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Centre, the site of the US Open tennis tournament, was being transformed into a hospital.

Chris Cuomo tweeted that he suffered from fever, chills and shortness of breath and that he would be doing his shows from his basement. He said that he worried about infecting his family, but added: “We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united!”

Close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals are already said to be stepping forward to help New York. New York City also sought to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help its swamped EMS system.

The city's ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day, or 50 per cent more than average, authorities said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a five-day stretch last week was the busiest in the history of the city's EMS operation.


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