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US passes 1 million coronavirus cases, fatalities at 58,000

By Lalit K Jha
April 29, 2020 08:38 IST
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The number of people infected by the coronavirus in the United States crossed one million and the fatalities jumped to nearly 59,000, but several states initiated the process to reopen their economies amidst signs of decline in both new cases and deaths.

IMAGE: Emergency Medical Services paramedics unload a patient at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

"We continue to pray for the victims as well as for those Americans who are grieving their lost ones and their loved ones. There's never been anything like this. We suffer with one heart but we will prevail. We are coming back, and we're coming back strong," US President Donald Trump said at the White House during his remarks on the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

The US became the first country in the world to have more than one million cases of coronavirus. It accounts for nearly one-third of the 3.1 million cases globally.

With nearly 59,000 deaths, the US also accounts for one-fourth of the over 2,13,000 global fatalities.

"Now that our experts believe the worst days of the pandemic are behind us, Americans are looking forward to the safe and rapid reopening of our country," Trump said.

"Throughout this ordeal, millions of hard-working Americans have been asked to really make tremendous, tremendous sacrifices. It is sacrifices like nobody thought would even be possible; nobody thought we would ever be talking about something like this," he said.

IMAGE: A Detroit resident is tested for free for COVID-19 and antibodies at the Sheffield Center in Detroit, Michigan. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined the phased reopening of his state.

"We are not going back to the way things were until we get to immunity or a vaccine. We will base reopening plans on facts and data, not on ideology. Not what we want. Not what we hope," he told reporters.

More than 1,800 people have died due to coronavirus in California so far. Schools and colleges, he said, could start in July-August.

California and Washington were among the first two states to impose stay-at-home order. Now more than 95 per cent of the country's 330 million population are under stay-at-home order.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also announced first phase reopening of the state. Tennessee on Monday allowed reopening of restaurants and later this week retail outlets could resume their businesses.

Pennsylvania has announced three-phase reopening of the state beginning May 3.

States like South Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio, have announced phased reopening of their economies. The state of Utah Tuesday announced relax restrictions and offered a mask to its residents.

IMAGE: US Vice President Mike Pence visits Dennis Nelson, a recovered COVID-19 disease patient who is now donating his blood for research on the virus and disease as Pence tours Mayo Clinic facilities supporting coronavirus disease research and treatment in Rochester, Minnesota, US. Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

In New York, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, non-essential businesses are ordered to stay closed till May 15. New York along with other states including New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island and Massachusetts have announced to coordinate reopening.

Responding to questions, Trump said the US has done more testing that any other country in the world. "We're doing more testing than any other country in the world by far. So, we're going to show more cases because we're doing much, much more testing, double than anybody else," he said.

Trump said he relied on experts, who apparently went wrong on this. "We were listening to experts and we always will listen to experts. But, the experts got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong. And, a lot of people had no idea it would be this serious," he said.

"I listened to experts. I'll tell you what. I did something that the experts thought I shouldn't have done. I closed down our country and our borders. I did a ban on China from coming in, other than US citizens, and we did very strong checks on even our US citizens," he asserted.

The United States, he said, is opening up again.

"I think it's going to be very, very successful. I think that third quarter, it's obviously a transition quarter, but I think it's going to be okay, maybe better than okay. Then I think fourth-quarter will the great and I think next year is going to be a tremendous year for this country," Trump said.

Failure to stop virus at source led to 184 countries 'going through hell': Trump

United States President Donald Trump doubled down on China for failing to tame the coronavirus at its very origin, saying it has led to 184 countries "going through hell", as several American lawmakers demanded steps to reduce dependence on Beijing for manufacturing and minerals.

Trump has been publicly blaming China for the global spread of the "invisible enemy" and launched an investigation against it. He has also indicated that the US may be looking at "a lot more money" in damages from China than the $140 billion being sought by Germany from Beijing for the pandemic.

Leaders of the US, the UK and Germany believe that the deaths and the destruction of the global economy could have been avoided, had China shared the information about the virus in its early phases.

"It's in 184 countries, as you hear me say often. It's hard to believe. It's inconceivable," Trump told reporters at White House. "It should have been stopped at the source, which was China. It should have been stopped very much at the source, but it wasn't. And now we have 184 countries going through hell."

Senator Ted Cruz and his colleagues have urged Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to support the development of a fully domestic supply chain of rare earths and other minerals that are critical for manufacturing defence technologies and supporting national security.

"It is clear that our dependence on China for vital rare earths threatens our US manufacturing and defence-industrial base. As the October 2018 Defence Industrial Base Report states: China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to US national security. [...] Ensuring a US supply of domestically sourced rare earths will reduce our vulnerability to supply disruptions that poses a grave risk to our military readiness," the senators wrote.

Congressman Brian Mast on Tuesday introduced a legislation to hold China accountable for its "coronavirus deception". The resolution would empower the US to withhold payments on debts owed
to China equal to the costs incurred by the US in response to COVID-19.

"China's total lack of transparency and mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has cost tens of thousands of lives, millions of jobs and left untold economic destruction. Congress must hold China accountable for their cover-up and force them to pay back the taxpayer dollars that have been spent as a result," Mast said.

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Lalit K Jha
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