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US coronavirus death toll tops 48,000

US coronavirus death toll tops 48,000 as the number of Americans infected increases by 200,000 in a week to more than 850,000

  • The coronavirus death count exceeded 48,000 in the United States Wednesday
  • In the last 24 hours, deaths have risen by 2,229 in the US – a small decrease on yesterday’s near-record total of 2,400
  • Confirmed cases of COVID-19 also surged Wednesday, with 856,584 now having tested positive for the virus – a staggering increase of 211,520 since April 15
  • It comes as a predictive model relied on by the White House increased its projection of expected deaths by 10 percent
  • The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now expects the national death toll to hit 67,641 by August 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The coronavirus death count exceeded 48,000 in the United States on Wednesday, as the number of Americans infected by COVID-19 has increased by 200,000 in just one week.  

In the last 24 hours deaths have risen by 2,229 across the country, marking small decrease on yesterday’s near-record total of 2,400 and bringing the number of Americans killed by coronavirus up to 48,035. 

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 also surged Wednesday, with 856,584 now having tested positive for the virus – a staggering increase of 211,520 since April 15. 

With no end to pandemic is sight, the predictive model relied on by the White House to forecast its potential impact has increased its projection of expected deaths by 10 percent. 

Now, The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation expects the national death toll to hit 67,641 by August 4.

In the last 24 hours, deaths have risen by 2,229 in the US – a small decrease on yesterday’s near-record total of 2,400 – bringing the number of Americans killed by coronavirus up to 48,035

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 also surged Wednesday, with 856,584 now having tested positive for the virus – a staggering increase of 211,520 since April 15

IHME’s model is constantly being fed new data and changes its forecast accordingly. It is the model which is used by the White House for forward planning. 

The model had last month predicted there would be more than 90,000 deaths by August, but that number dropped to 82,000 on April 7, before decreasing by another 20,000 days later.

The drastic reduction signaled to experts at IHME that social distancing measures were working in the fightback against COVID-19.   

But the model assumes that all states are implementing ‘broad, aggressive social distancing policies’, and may not have factored in any plans from states, such a Georgia and South Carolina, to ease social distancing measures early.

New Jersey and Michigan each reported their highest single-day coronavirus-related death tolls on Tuesday. That number continued to rise on Wednesday with the states recording 485 new deaths between them.

New York state, the epicenter of the US outbreak, reported 474 new deaths. The death toll in New York has continued to decrease for the last six days. 

Health officials have noted that deaths are a lagging indicator of the outbreak, coming weeks after patients fall sick, and do not mean stay-at-home restrictions are failing to slow the spread of the virus.

New reported US cases appear to be slowing this week, rising by less than 30,000 a day for the past five days through Wednesday. The United States had a record 35,397 new cases on April 10.  

It comes as Oklahoma declaring plans begin easing lockdown restrictions in a bid to kick start their economy, which has suffered drastically since the coronavirus outbreak.

The state’s Governor Kevin Stitt said Wednesday that Oklahoma will begin its reopening with barbershops, hair and nail salons, pet groomers and spas.

Others, including restaurants and movie theaters, can reopen within 10 days, the governor said. 

Oklahoma now joins Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in with measures to restarting their economies.  

Similarly, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced similar measures on Monday – despite deaths and infections spiking in the state on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, that spike saw a sharp drop as 43 new deaths were recorded and 771 new cases emerged, a decrease of 45 and 327 respectively. Georgia now has 20,166 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 818 total deaths. 

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announces plans to reopen Oklahoma businesses after COVID-19 closures, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Oklahoma City. Stitt said barbershops, hair salons and other personal care businesses can reopen Friday, if they maintain social distancing

The state’s reopening timetable, which is one of the most aggressive in the US, allows gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen on Friday as long as owners follow strict social-distancing and hygiene requirements.  

Elective medical procedures will also resume. By next Monday, movie theaters may once again sell tickets and restaurants limited to takeout orders could return to limited dine-in service.

Such a swift reopening runs counter to the advice of many experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top authority on infectious diseases, who warned again Monday that resuming business too soon risked a fresh spike in infections.  

Gov. Brian Kemp said it was important to allow businesses that had been shut down a chance to get some revenue flowing but he emphasized businesses would still be operating under restrictions including monitoring employee health, enhancing sanitation and separating workers.

‘I think this is the right approach at the right time,’ Kemp said. ‘We´re not just throwing the keys back to these business owners. We´re talking about people (who had) the government shut down their business.’

Bars, live performance venues and amusement parks will remain closed.  

Kemp’s order overrides any attempt to impose stricter local decisions, but some local officials including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the governor is moving too quickly.

‘It appears the governor’s order supersedes anything I can do as mayor, but I still have my voice and what I will continue to do is ask Atlantans to please stay at home,’ Bottoms told ABC News.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was also critical of Kemp. 

‘Don’t go out,’ Johnson urged residents during a televised news conference. ‘People will not come here if they think our businesses are not safe’.

Johnson said people would be at close quarters in movie theaters and restaurants and ‘there’s no way that hair, nails, massages and tattoos can be done at a safe distance’.

‘Reopen? Dangerously incompetent’ is how Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race to Kemp, characterized the action on Twitter. 

The governor’s actions line up with the phase one of reopening seen in the guidelines issued last week by President Donald Trump’s administration. Those guidelines call for 14 days of declining COVID-19 cases. 

Despite the criticisms, several state governors have followed Kemp’s lead. 

In South Carolina, department stores, sporting goods stores and flea markets are among the businesses allowed to reopen in parts of the state from April 20

Other stores selling furniture, books, music, flowers, clothing and accessories can also reopen. The businesses are allowed to open at 20 percent capacity, or five people per 1,000 square feet.   

Meanwhile, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis has given the green-light for elective surgeries and retail curbside delivery to begin April 27. Hair salons, dental offices and tattoo shops can also reopen that date with restrictions. 

Other retail will be allowed to reopen from May 4 with social distancing, along with large workplaces operating at a 50 percent capacity.     

Tennessee too has declared it has no plans to extended its total shutdown beyond its April 30 expiration date, with a phased reopening slated to begin next week. 

And in Texas, state parks have reopened and retailers able to deliver their goods or services to people at home or in their cars to minimize contact resumed business on Wednesday.

Schools and universities will, however, remain closed for the rest of the year.  

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has released a new map projection that reveals when each US state could potentially start relaxing measures

For the country to re-open – and stay open – medical experts have routinely warned that increased testing will be essential in helping to slow the spread of the highly contagious respiratory illness.  

However, the measures have ground the economy to a standstill and forced more than 22 million people to apply for unemployment benefits in the last month.

The US has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, almost four times as many infections as Spain, the country with the second-highest number. Globally, cases topped 2.5 million on Tuesday with North America accounting for one-third of all cases. 

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