US enters ‘peak death week,’ warns White House task force

Updated April 07, 2020

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Certified medical assistants conduct tests for Covid-19 at a drive-thru testing station in the parking lot of UNLV Medicine on April 6 in Nevada. — AFP
Certified medical assistants conduct tests for Covid-19 at a drive-thru testing station in the parking lot of UNLV Medicine on April 6 in Nevada. — AFP

WASHINGTON: As Americans buckled down for one of the most brutal weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, a member of the White House task force warned them on Monday that this would be “the peak death week.”

But New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo assured them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel as both fatalities and infections in his state were beginning to fall.

Statistics released by various monitoring agencies showed that by Monday afternoon total coronavirus cases in the US had reached 352,500 while almost 10,500 deaths were also registered.

The statistics indicated that the United States now has twice as many cases as in Spain and Italy and nearly twice as many people a day are dying here than in those two countries.

According to the data, 1,320 Americans died of this contagious disease on Friday and 32,088 got infected. Saturday proved to be worse with 1,331 deaths and 34,196 new patients. On Sunday, the deaths decreased to 1,165, as did new infections, to 25,316.

The numbers were alarming enough for the White House task force to alert Americans for the “peak death week” but also gave Governor Cuomo some room for an optimistic projection.

Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the task force, said they had enough reasons to warn Americans to “buckle down” for “one of the most critical and brutal weeks” since the pandemic hit America in mid-February. He urged people across the country to “continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation … to get through this week.”

Admiral Brett Giroir, another member of the task force, however, gave a sterner warning. “It’s going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and unfortunately, peak death week,” he said in an ABC talk show, Good Morning America.

Dr Giroir, a physician, said the situation in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Detroit would be particularly bad, reinforcing an earlier message from US Surgeon General Jerome Adams that this week would “be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”

But Governor Cuomo offered a ray of hope, saying that for the first time in a week, deaths in his state had fallen slightly from the day before, but they were still recording nearly 600 new fatalities every day.

“New hospitalizations have also fallen by 50 percent in the last 24 hours,” he said, but also cautioned Americans not to raise their hopes yet. “That’s partially a function of more people being discharged,” he said, adding that it’s not yet clear if the crisis was reaching plateau in the state which has more than 4,100 deaths and over 122,000 cases.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020