Washington, May 28 (efe-epa).- The United States, now with more than 101,000 official deaths from Covid-19, on Thursday still has not been able to halt the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 1.7 million US residents, according to the latest official figures.
Hitting various states differently, the pandemic continues to spread in full force, with 11,380 newly confirmed virus cases and 687 deaths over the past 24 hours even as additional figures emerge showing the monumental effect the crisis is having on the US economy, causing an historic contraction in production and a huge rise in unemployment, having thrown 41 million people out of work in just the past two months.
President Donald Trump referred on Twitter to the death toll, one-fourth the world total of fatalities so far, saying that the country had reached a “very sad milestone.”
“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!” the president tweeted on Thursday.
In a later message on the social network, Trump insisted on blaming Beijing for the pandemic, claiming that the coronavirus is a “a very bad ‘gift’ from China, which is where the virus was first detected last December.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the massive loss of life to Covid-19 in the US is a “scar on our nation,” going on to lament the severe impact the crisis is having on African Americans, in particular, who are one of the ethnic groups being extraordinarily hard-hit by the virus.
Pelosi said that conducting more testing among the population for the coronavirus is vital, although she admitted that she had not undergone a test yet as per her doctor’s recommendation and because in doing so she would place herself ahead of others in line for such a procedure.
During the day, Trump also said that he will keep National Guard troops deployed to help with efforts to combat the pandemic until at least mid-August.
“The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus,” Trump tweeted. “This week, I will extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August, so they can continue to help States succeed in their response and recovery efforts.”
On March 22, Trump placed the National Guard at the disposal of the states of Washington, New York and California – the ones most affected at that time by the coronavirus – to support local authorities’ efforts to deal with the health crisis.
The president said at the time that the federal government would bear all the costs of deploying National Guard units in those states under Title 32, which defines the role of the Guard – a reserve military force that operates in each state and is placed under the president’s control in times of war or crisis.
The National Guard said on its Twitter account that approximately 46,000 troops are continuing to help fight Covid-19 along with their other health care partners.
Although New York state remains the area hardest hit by the virus, with 366,733 confirmed cases and 29,529 deaths, according to The Johns Hopkins University, the figures on the spread of the virus there have been declining in recent days, allowing local authorities to reopen some parts of the state, although not New York City.
On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorized companies, stores and other establishments – via an executive order – to deny entry to people not wearing facial coverings.
Other states that have resumed some social and economic activities continue evaluating public behavior in the face of the pandemic, although some like Wisconsin, which reopened local businesses in early May, have registered an increase in coronavirus cases over the past several weeks.
Although local authorities say that it is too soon to attribute the spike in cases to the reopening, organizers of the Wisconsin state fair announced Thursday that they were cancelling the event, which was to have lasted for 10 days, a move not taken for the past 75 years.
The suspension of all sorts of activities has had an impact on the US economy, which during the first quarter of the year contracted at an annualized rate of 5 percent, the first quarterly drop since the 2008 financial crisis.
The worst does not yet seem to be behind the country, however, and economists expect to see a markedly negative effect on US productive capacity during the second half of 2020.