U.S. Braces for Soaring Death Toll as Pandemic Bears Down

LONDON (AP) -
In this photo taken Sunday, laboratory technicians handle microcentrifuge tubes containing patient samples to be tested for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, at the Pathologists Lancet Kenya laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

The United States braced for one of their bleakest weeks in living memory on Monday as the social and financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic deepened. New infections in Italy, Spain and France showed signs of slowing, but hundreds of patients were still dying each day.

In Washington, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams offered a stark warning about the surge of coronavirus deaths the nation is facing.

“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,’’ he told Fox News on Sunday.

More than 9,600 people have died of the virus in the United States, and it leads the world in confirmed infections at more than 337,000.

In New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, daily confirmed deaths dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned it was “too early to tell” whether the good news would hold.

President Donald Trump later suggested the hard weeks ahead could foretell the turning of a corner.

“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump claimed at an White House briefing.

Louisiana health officials reported 68 more coronavirus-related deaths, the state’s biggest jump since the outbreak began. In all, the state where New Orleans hosts millions of tourists yearly has 477 reported deaths and over 13,000 infections.

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and nearly 70,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

The virus is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes. For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and death. Over 263,000 people have recovered worldwide.

There is no known treatment, but some drugs have shown promise and patients are rushing to join studies.

Illness has been compounded by shocking economic pain as all the world’s largest economies have ground to a halt, with 10 million jobs lost in the United States in the last two weeks alone.