Terrifying spike in coronavirus deaths puts US on road to overtake China’s toll

The number of fatalities jumped by 540 to 3,017, while reported infections surpassed 163.000, making the US one of the worst affected areas in the world for COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally. Confirmed cases of coronavirus are expected to surge in the coming days and weeks, as the Trump administration begins to ramp up testing. The President told a White House briefing on Monday that more than one million Americans had been tested for the deadly virus.

That figure represents less than 3 percent of the population, with the US still lagging well behind counties such as Italy and South Korea.

US health officials are urging people to obey stay-at-home orders to stop the fast spread of the contagion.

Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told NBC’s Today show: “If we do things together well – almost perfectly – we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities.”

Mr Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that keeping the death toll down to 100,000 would be regarded as “a very good job”.

The President backtracked on his pledge to get America working again by Easter, confirming that the lockdown would continue to at least April 30.

Meanwhile, in New York , people lined both sides of the Hudson River to cheer the arrival of the US Navy ship Comfort.

The ship is a converted oil tanker and will be used as a floating hospital for non-coronavirus patients.

It will care for those requiring surgery and intensive care, and will help to free up vital space for more COVID-19 patients in New York’s overwhelmed hospitals.

The city is also erecting a 68-bed field hospital in Central Park to help cope with the flood of new cases, evoking a wartime atmosphere.

In addition, the Javits Center, a convention hall in Manhattan, has been turned into a 1000-bed hospital.

New York accounts for almost half the number of total of deaths in the US, with 1,218 dead.

The Governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, told reporters at the Javits Center, that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak was yet to come, even as another 253 people succumbed to the deadly virus in the state in s 24 hour period.

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He said: “If you wait to prepare for a storm to hit you, it is too late. You have to prepare before the storm hits.

“And in this case the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit that apex.

“How do you know when you’re going to get there? You don’t.”

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, waded into the debate around the coronavirus outbreak.

He said that speed was of the essence and called on the President to move “more rapidly” in his response to the spread of the virus.

He told MSNBC on Monday: “We know from experience that speed matters.

“We know that you can’t go too fast. It’s about going too slow.”

Mr Biden urged the President to stop playing politics and get on with saving lives, sating that if he were president he would “surge” essential medical supplies to those states most in need.

The former Delaware senator said: “The president has to stop the belittling of the governors with whom he disagrees. Get the help to where it’s needed now.

“They should let Dr. Fauci and the experts run the show.”

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