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'Just relax, stay home': The US now has more Covid-19 cases than either China or Italy

Over 83,000 people in the US have tested positive for Covid-19.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus Covid-19 testing centre at Hansen Dam Park
A Los Angeles Police Department officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus Covid-19 testing centre at Hansen Dam Park
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE US IS now the country with the most coronavirus infections, overtaking Italy and China, and as over 83,000 people in the country have tested positive for Covid-19. 

More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems even in wealthy nations and triggering an avalanche of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted life for billions.

The US has recorded 1,178 deaths, while the global death toll stood at 23,293.

“We are waging war on this virus using every financial, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and military resource, to halt its spread and protect our citizens,” US President Donald Trump said.

With about 40% of Americans under lockdown orders, Trump urged citizens to do their part by practising social distancing: “Stay home. Just relax, stay home.”

In New York, the virus hotbed in the United States, authorities hope to stem infections as the city struggles to more than double the number of available hospital beds.

“Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current healthcare system,” Governor Andrew Cuomo warned.

First responders in New York have been receiving more than 6,000 calls to the 911 emergency line a day, many from people seeking virus testing.

It is “breaking records. We didn’t have this many calls on 9/11,” said Anthony Almojeria, a leader in the emergency medical services union.

Economic devastation

The pandemic has already, and rapidly, been catastrophic to the global economy.

In the US, the world’s largest economy, the Labor Department reported that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week – by far the highest number ever recorded.

Job losses have swept across sectors from food services to retail to transportation, as nearly half of the country has closed to “non-essential” businesses.

“It is staggering. We are only seeing the initial numbers; they will get worse, unfortunately,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, estimating that half a million people in the city would lose work. 

But Wall Street soared for a third straight day, recouping more of this month’s hefty losses, on expectations for the largest stimulus in US history.

Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion package that will provide cash payouts averaging $3,400 for a family of four. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced confidence that the House of Representatives would follow suit today.

Includes reporting by © – AFP 2020

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