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US coronavirus death toll passes 50,000

Washington /The number of Covid-19 coronavirus fatalities in the United States has topped 50,000 and confirmed cases stand at 870,468, Johns Hopkins University said Friday in its latest update on the pandemic.

The US accounts for 38 percent of the 2.74 million infections worldwide and for more than a quarter of the 192,135 deaths blamed on the virus, according to the team of public health experts, scientists and statisticians at Hopkins.

In less than three months, Covid-19 has killed nearly as many Americans as died in Washington’s 10-year-long war in Vietnam, roughly 58,000.

New York state is the hardest-hit jurisdiction in the US, with more than 16,280 deaths. Within the Empire State, New York City and neighboring areas constitute the hot spot,

President Donald Trump and some Republican state governors have been calling for the start of a gradual rolling back of the measures adopted to contain the spread of the deadly disease, pointing to the more than 26 million US workers who have lost their jobs in the last month.

Health specialists, meanwhile, continue to caution against ending the lockdowns too soon.

Those specialists say that the available figures understate the number of Covid-19 deaths and – by extension – the true mortality rate.

The death toll maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes fatalities where the presence of coronavirus was confirmed through testing.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, noted during his daily coronavirus briefing that another factor tending toward an undercounting of deaths was the omission from official figures of people who died at home of suspected Covid-19.

The number of new coronavirus deaths and infections in the state declined slightly as part of the stabilization that began last week, he said.

An additional 422 people died overnight, Cuomo said. Fatalities in New York have remained below 500 a day since April 18.

“This is at an unimaginable level,” the governor said. “It’s dropping somewhat, but it’s still devastating news.”

“All the evidence suggests we’re on the downside of the curve. “Some projections have the decline slowing between now and June. But these are just projections. The variable is going to be what we do,” he said.

“This is still not great news. Number of new people coming into the hospital, number of new infections is slightly down, but that’s basically a flat line and that is troubling,” Cuomo said.

He said that New York has yet to reach the point recommended by the CDC for beginning to ease restrictions: 14 consecutive days of stabilizing/declining numbers.

It is too soon to re-open the economy, he said, though he promised to announce a decision next week on whether the lockdown will continue in its present form until May 15, as currently mandated.

Cuomo sketched out a possible scenario for what could happen if restrictions were dialed back prematurely.

“All the progress we made is gone, and all experts, or virtually all experts, will say not only does the virus spread increase, but it increases to a higher point than we had increased the first time. Again, this is a remarkably effective virus at spreading and growing. So I know everyone is impatient. Let’s just reopen. That’s what happens if we just reopen,” he said.

In the circumstances of a pandemic, an outbreak anywhere effectively means an outbreak everywhere, the governor said, citing new information indicating that Covid-19 was in New York earlier than previously thought.

The state likely had 10,000 cases in February, introduced by some of the nearly 2.2 million travelers from Europe who passed through New York and New Jersey airports during the first two months of the year.

“We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right – even in retrospective, it was right – but we left the back door open, because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban,” Cuomo said. (24 April 2020, EFE/PracticaEspañol)

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