US braces for ‘the saddest week’ as death toll rises

Updated April 06, 2020

Email

Men load a casket into a car outside a funeral home during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on April 5. — Reuters
Men load a casket into a car outside a funeral home during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on April 5. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and the country’s top medical officer alerted their nation on Sunday to brace themselves for “the saddest week” of their lives as the coronavirus kills almost 10,000 Americans.

“This is going to be the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in an interview to Fox News. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localised. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”

President Trump also expressed similar sentiments at his daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday evening. “This will be probably the toughest week, between this week and the next week. And there will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” he said.

The US media reported that almost 90 percent of the country was observing stay-at-home orders, even though President Trump was still reluctant to issue a federal order. Surgeon General Adams urged Americans to continue practicing social distancing for at least the next 30 days as almost 330,000 Americans got infected by the deadly virus by Sunday afternoon.

The infections in America took almost a month to move to 100,000 cases on March 29, but then it began to multiply rapidly, taking less than a week to reach 200,000 cases on April 2. And on April 4, it crossed 300,000, adding 30,000 cases on Sunday.

As this respiratory disease killed almost 10,000 people across America, Dr. Anthony Fuaci, an expert of infectious diseases in the White House task force, warned that between 100,000 to 240,000 people could die this season if the death toll continued at its present pace.

Statistics released on Sunday show a gradual increase. On Friday, 1,320 Americans died of this contagious disease and more 32,088 got infected. These were the highest in a day since the outbreak began late last month. But Saturday proved to be worse with 1,331 deaths and 34,196 new patients. By Sunday noon, about 12,000 new cases and 700 deaths were added to the toll.

In the worst affected New York City, both infections and deaths double every third day, shows a New York Times map.

This rapid growth in deaths and infections has made the United States the new epicenter of the pandemic, which has already killed almost 68,000 and infected about 1.25 million people across the globe.

An opinion poll released this weekend showed that a majority of Americans now disapprove of President Trump’s response to the crisis. The ABC News/Ipsos poll reported that 52 percent of respondents disapprove of his management of the deadly outbreak, while 47 percent approve.

The Guardian newspaper reported that on 6 March, epidemiologists at Imperial College London gave the White House coronavirus taskforce a heads-up about a projected impact of the pandemic on the US.

They calculated that the disease would infect 81 percent of the US population and “put 2.2 million Americans into body bags,” if immediate steps were not taken to halt its spread. The White House ignored the warning.

President Trump’s failure to heed this and other warnings “has set in train a domino effect that now imperils large swathes of the US,” the newspaper commented.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser warned that roughly one in seven residents in the US capital could get infected with the virus. Her projections show the pandemic hitting its peak in Washington early this summer and then gradually receding.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020