US COVID-19 deaths near 150,000 amid calls to shut down country

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WASHINGTON: The death toll from COVID-19 in the US was nearing 150,000 with daily fatalities continuously passing the 1,000 mark, amid calls to shut down the country to contain the surging pandemic.

The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it is to save as many lives as possible, over 150 prominent US medical experts and health professionals said in an open letter on Sunday addressed to President Donald Trump’s administration, members of Congress and state Governors.

Reopening before suppressing the virus is not going to help the economy, they added. The US currently accounts for the world’s highest number of COVID-19 case and deaths at 4,233,764 and 146,934, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

New York state has reported the highest death toll of 32,608 in the country. Deaths in California, Florida and Texas, which have emerged as the new epicentres the pandemic in the country, rose to 8,408, 5,777 and 4,990, respectively.

Other states with more than 5,000 fatalities include New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. In the letter, the experts said: “Of all the nations in the world, we’ve had the most deaths from COVID-19. At the same time, we’re in the midst of ‘reopening our economy,’ exposing more and more people to coronavirus and watching numbers of cases — and deaths — skyrocket.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities.”

Despite the grim situation, Trump on July 23 urged schools across the country to reopen as long as they can practice good hygiene and social distancing. The White House is asking Congress to pledge $105 billion to schools as part of the next coronavirus stimulus bill, he had said.

Trump and his administration are pressuring schools to reopen in the fall, threatening to withhold federal funding from the ones thatdo not comply. Meanwhile, over 20 states have paused or partially reversed reopening efforts, raising uncertainty over the prospect of economic recovery.

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