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, 229.
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.
The New York Times reports that 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.
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.
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.