US becomes first country to record more than 2,000 deaths in single day

The US has become the first country to record more than 2,000 deaths of people with coronavirus in a single day.

Over a 24-hour period, 2,108 people infected with the virus died, while the number of confirmed infections surged past 500,000, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

More than half the total number of US deaths – which stood at more than 18,500 by Friday – are clustered in the three-state metropolitan area around New York City, home to around 20 million people.

Other hot spots include places such as Detroit, Louisiana, and Washington, DC.

In the ‘bedroom communities’ across the Hudson River in New Jersey, to the east on Long Island and north to Connecticut, officials were recording some of the worst outbreaks in the country, even as public health authorities expressed optimism that the pace of infections appeared to be slowing.

“Once it gets into the city, there are so many commuters and travel, it gets everywhere,” said Matt Mazewski, a Columbia University economics student who tried to get away from the epicenter by leaving his apartment near the New York City campus for his parents’ house in Long Valley, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the worldwide coronavirus death toll surged past 100,000 and confirmed infections reached about 1.7 million.

The US is on track to overtake Italy as the country with the highest number of dead, though the true figures on infections and lives lost around the world are believed to be much higher because of limited testing, government cover-ups, and different counting practices.

In places such as New York, Italy and Spain, for example, many victims who died outside a hospital — say, in a house or a nursing home — have not been included in the count.

With Christians around the world heading into Easter weekend, public health officials and religious leaders alike urged people to stay home, warning that violating lockdowns and social distancing rules could cause the virus to come storming back. Authorities in Europe put up roadblocks, used helicopters and drones, and cited drivers who had no good reason to be out.

“I understand intellectually why it’s happening,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, where deaths rose by 777, to more than 7,800. “It doesn’t make it any easier to accept.”

But New York officials also said the number of people in intensive care dropped for the first time since mid-March and hospitalizations were slowing: 290 new patients in a single day, compared with daily increases of more than 1,000 last week. Mr. Cuomo said that if the trend holds, New York might not need the overflow field hospitals that officials have been scrambling to build.

New Jersey’s outbreaks began with the state’s first confirmed infection, in a man who commuted between New York and his Fort Lee apartment. The virus is now in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Some suburbs had an infection rate even higher than New York City’s, including Rockland County, where the rate was double.

As of Friday, Nassau County, on New York’s Long Island, had over 700 deaths. Bergen County, New Jersey, and Westchester County, New York, had around 400 each. Essex County, New Jersey, and Suffolk County, New York, both recorded more than 350. Fairfield County, Connecticut, had about 180.

Officials said many Connecticut infections can be traced to cases in New York’s Westchester County.

“This is a virus that knows no borders,” Connecticut governor Ned Lamont said last month.

For several days, two of the globe’s other worst-hit places, Italy and Spain, reported that new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have been leveling off even as the daily death tolls remain shocking.

Spain recorded 605 more deaths, its lowest figure in more than two weeks, bringing its overall toll to more than 15,800. Italy reported 570 additional deaths for a total of more than 18,800.

With some signs of hope emerging, questions intensified about when restrictions might be loosened. Spain said factories and construction sites could resume work Monday, while schools, most shops, and offices will remain closed. In Italy, there were pleas to restart manufacturing.

Though Donald Trump insisted he would not lift restrictions until it is safe, the US president announced an “Opening our Country” task force and said: “I want to get it open as soon as possible.”

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that easing restrictions prematurely could “lead to a deadly resurgence.”

Italy, Ireland, and Greece were among the countries extending lockdown orders into May.

As the threat receded in some places, it increased elsewhere. In the US, Michigan announced 205 new deaths Friday, its highest daily total, up from 117 a day earlier.

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