U.S. COVID-19 cases top 800,000, divide deepens over reopening economy

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A cleaner works in San Francisco, California, the United States, March 20, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday evening a statewide stay-at-home order for the most populous U.S. state in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Newsom asked all nearly 40 million Californians to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to head out. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)
A cleaner works in San Francisco, California, the United States, March 20, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday evening a statewide stay-at-home order for the most populous U.S. state in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Newsom asked all nearly 40 million Californians to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to head out. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 800,000 on Tuesday with deaths surpassing 43,000, while Americans are increasingly divided over when and how to reopen the economy.

The country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 804,194 with a death toll of 43,200 by 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) on Tuesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

New York state remains to be the hardest-hit state with 257,125 cases and 18,821 deaths. New Jersey followed with 88,806 cases and 4,520 deaths.

Other states with over 30,000 cases include Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan and Illinois, according to the CSSE.

In the wake of the pandemic and its economic fallout, governors of U.S. states, such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, and Louisiana, have recently announced moves intended to restart economy and public life in their states.

The decisions came as anti-quarantine protests were popping up nationwide, in which attendees argued that stay-at-home orders aimed at limiting the spread of the virus were unnecessary or have gone on for too long.

The ongoing tension in the country was vividly captured by a viral video showing two health care workers dressed in scrubs and protective masks counter-protesting against a rally on Sunday in Denver, Colorado.

The scene was “remarkable” and the two health care workers “are standing in the crosswalk during red lights as a ‘reminder,’ they say, of why shutdown measures are in place,” tweeted local reporter Chase Woodruff.

According to a report released Monday by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, the United States will need to administer 20 million tests for the novel coronavirus each day by mid-summer in order to fully re-mobilize the economy in a safe fashion.

Some governors complained that the federal government has not followed through on its responsibility to help states get access to supplies. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, said on Monday that states, not the federal government, should be doing the testing.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been saying for days that New York cannot reopen for business until a testing regime has been established to determine who is safe to go back to work, but without federal aid, the states are not equipped to scale up.

New York will reopen at a different rate on a regional basis based on that region’s facts and circumstances, Cuomo said Tuesday at his daily news briefing.

“Just like some states will reopen before other states because they have a different circumstance when it comes to Covid and their status with Covid, it’s also true across the state,” Cuomo said.

New Hampshire may take a phased approach to the loosening of the state’s stay-at-home order at some point, Governor Chris Sununu said Tuesday afternoon.

“This is not an open/close situation, it just isn’t, nor should it be,” he said. “We’ve always said public health has to be preeminent, has to be one of the key factors that we are looking at when we take any step.”

Noticing some counties are starting to loosen restrictions, California Governor Gavin Newsom warned them that doing so could lead to a rise in cases.

“I caution those elected officials that practicing physical distancing has worked to keep those numbers relatively modest in terms of growth, but if we pull back too quickly, those numbers will go through the roof,” Newsom said.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, on Monday urged caution for states to reopen and warned that moving too quickly may backfire.

“Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Enditem

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