US virus death toll over 2,000, Fauci says up to 200K deaths could result

Washington, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- The US death toll in the coronavirus pandemic rose to 2,197 on Sunday, with more than 25 percent of the deaths occurring in New York state, The Johns Hopkins University said in its latest update.

Despite the increasing number of dead in the US, this country is still behind several other nations in that grim statistic, with 10,023 having died in Italy, 6,528 in Spain, 3,182 in China, 2,640 in Iran and 2,319 in France, according to the university’s tally.

By states, New York has suffered 695 deaths, significantly higher than the No. 2 state – Washington – where 136 people have died. New Jersey is in third place with 86 deaths and Louisiana in fourth with 70.

Gov. Cuomo said that about 25 percent of the fatalities in his state have been elderly residents of nursing homes and similar facilities.

On Friday, the US, which has the highest number of people known to be infected with the coronavirus, surpassed the 100,000 threshold of people sick with Covid-19, and on Sunday the tally was slightly more than 125,000, with Italy in second place with 92,472 patients and China with 82,120.

By state, New York has 59,513 coronavirus patients – in other words, about half the US total, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday morning – New Jersey 11,124, California 5,648 and Florida 4,246, with other “hotspots” of infection springing up in places like Chicago, Detroit and Louisiana.

In an interview with Univision on Sunday morning, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said that people are fleeing to Florida from New York state, upping the total of infected persons, particularly in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in southeast Florida.

Meanwhile, on Sunday the US government’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that projections indicate that the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US may reach between 100,000 and 200,000 or more in the coming months and that the virus could infect “millions,” although he noted that current models suggest that these may be “worst case” scenarios.

“Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 (deaths), but I don’t want to be held to that,” Fauci told CNN, adding that those figures constitute a “moving target” that could change depending on social and ecological factors.

“What we do know,” Fauci added, “is that we’ve got a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans and we’re going to be developing serious problems in other areas.”

Fauci said that – from a public health perspective – the social distancing measures in place in the US cannot be lifted until the country’s coronavirus testing capability is dramatically increased, despite President Donald Trump’s statement that he hopes the country can be “raring to go” and people could go back to work by Easter (April 12) and that such measures could be lifted.

“I think exactly when it will be relates to the question … – When are we going to get that material … those tests?” said Fauci, going on to explain that without sufficient testing to know who is sick and where those people are, states will not be able to end social distancing in the near future.

“It’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s certainly not going to be next week,” he said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Sunday told CNN that “As the president (Trump) fiddles, people are dying” from Covid-19.

“The president, his denial at the beginning, was deadly,” she said, referring to Trump’s initial claim that the epidemic was a “hoax” and that the number of cases would quickly fall to zero in the US, and she added that the US government is still far behind the curve when it comes to getting testing kits and medical equipment to where they are needed.

“His … delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly. And now I think (what) the best thing would be to do is to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up,” she said.

“This is such a tragedy. We don’t even know the magnitude of it because we don’t have adequate testing,” she said, going on to attack Trump for rejecting congressional oversight of some aspects of the $2 trillion relief package approved by Congress, and signed by the president, last week.

“We don’t accept that. We will have our oversight,” Pelosi said, adding: “The other day, when (Trump) was signing the bill, he said, just think, 20 days ago, everything was great. No, everything wasn’t great. We had nearly 500 cases and 17 deaths already. And in that 20 days, because we weren’t prepared, we now have 2,000 deaths and 100,000 cases.”

New York Gov. Cuomo announced Sunday that he had decided to extend at least until April 15 his order allowing only “essential” workers to report to work, adding that the regulation will be reviewed every two weeks and saying that the return to normality will occur when there are easy-to-administer coronavirus tests that are available in very large numbers, declaring that if millions of people could be tested – and authorities could determine where the sick people are – people could go back to work “tomorrow,” presumably in the less-affected areas.

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