US coronavirus death toll climbs past 3,000

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A pedestrian wearing a protective mask and protective gloves walks across an empty Dekalb Avenue, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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At least 3,003 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, according to a CNN tally of data from state health departments.

There have been at least 160,698 cases of coronavirus that have been detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems.

The total includes cases from every state, the District of Columbia and several US territories, as well as repatriated cases. Hawaii and Wyoming have not reported a death from coronavirus.

Each day sees more reports of deaths than the previous day. There were more than 500 reports of deaths from coronavirus on Monday, the most death reports in a single day in the United States.

Almost one out of every five US deaths reported during the coronavirus crisis was reported Monday.

Doctor fears chaos

Many people on the front lines of the national heath care crisis against Covid-19 are feeling frustrated — and ill — in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Hundreds of medical workers across the country have fallen sick and hospitals face dire shortages of protective gear.

“We are slowly descending into chaos,” a trauma physician at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital said.

The doctor’s colleagues who normally rely on literature, research and training are “flying blind” without instruments and building guidelines from the ground up, the physician said.

And when they’re done treating coronavirus patients in trauma, they head back to the ICU to treat more.

At a New York hospital, staff members were wiping down and reusing single-use protective equipment, a doctor in the anesthesiology department said.

When the hospital ran out of life-saving ventilators, it started using anesthesia machines instead.

“There is not enough of anything,” the doctor said. “There are just so many patients who are so sick, it seems impossible to keep up with the demand.”

And it’s not just the elderly who get severe complications. More young adults are getting hospitalized with coronavirus.

At NYU-Langone Brooklyn hospital, patients ranging from their 20s to their 90s are being intubated, an emergency room nurse said.

In Boston, “we are seeing lots of young people get very sick in our intensive care units,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious disease at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“So when we are asking you to stay home, we are saying please stay home because we don’t know who they will be,” she said. “We have no way to predict who of the younger will get sicker.”

Social distancing paying off in Washington, studies say

Social distancing measures appear to be helping to slow the spread of Covid-19 in King County, Washington, according to a blog post from the public health department of Seattle & King County, which cited two reports by an institute that specializes in studying disease transmission dynamics.

“We are looking at reductions in person-to-person contact that have progressively improved and have led us to a point where we are making a very positive impact,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, the public health officer for Seattle and King County.

The studies run by the Institute for Disease Modeling looked at data from the Washington State Department of Health and Facebook, the blog post explained.

They looked at population mobility and whether changes in that could be related to reductions in Covid-19 transmission, Dr. Daniel Klein, who led the analysis, told reporters.

The studies show that the “effective reproductive number,” roughly the average number of new transmissions from each infected person, dropped by about half from about 2.7 in late February to roughly 1.4 on March 18 in King County, Klein said.

Staying in place can save millions, top doctor says

The latest projections on coronavirus in the US were so alarming, there was virtually no choice but to extend social distancing guidelines, two of the nation’s top infectious disease experts said.

Federal guidelines originally scheduled to end this week have now been extended to April 30.

That means all Americans should avoid groups of 10 or more people, avoid discretionary travel, and consider canceling all social visits in homes. Older residents should stay home.

But even with continued social distancing, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“It was patently obvious, looking at the data … if we try to push back (on social distancing) prematurely, not only do we lose lives, but it probably would even hurt the economy,” he said.

“So you would lose on double accounts. So to us, it was no question what the right choice was.”

How well Americans obey social distancing could make the difference between 100,000 and millions of deaths, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

“If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities,” Birx told NBC’s “Today” show Monday. “We don’t even want to see that.”

Birx said the worst-case projections show “between 1.6 million and 2.2 million deaths if you do nothing” and disregard social distancing guidelines.

‘Those are tinders that can turn into big fires’

While the death toll from coronavirus in New York state topped 1,000, it’s not just hotspots that need to watch out.

Places with few cases can also steer the direction of this outbreak, Fauci said.

“If you just look at those (places) and say, ‘There are very little infections in this area or that area, we don’t have to worry about it,’ you’re making a big mistake. Because those are tinders that can turn into big fires.”

“You’ve got to look at those other areas and make sure you very vigorously identify, test … get individuals who you take out of society because they’re isolated, and do contact tracing,” he said.

You asked, we answered: Your top coronavirus questions

Kentucky governor: You need to stay home

People who live in Kentucky are barred from traveling to other states under an executive ordered issued by Gov. Andy Beshear.

There are exceptions — residents who work in other states, who need to take care of others, who need health care and who are answering court orders — and the order says Kentuckians who are returning to the state need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Right now we have more cases in other states,” the governor said. “What it means is your likelihood of getting infected and potentially bringing back the coronavirus may be greater in other states than ours. You need to be home anyways.”

The governor has told residents they should not travel to Tennessee, which has more than 1,800 cases.

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