(Reuters) – The United States on Sunday entered one of the most critical weeks so far in the coronavirus crisis, with government officials warning that the death toll in places such as New York, Michigan and Louisiana was a sign of trouble to come in other states.
Still, governors of eight states resisted issuing stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the respiratory disease, and some churches held large Palm Sunday services in defiance of such orders in their states.
New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on Sunday that for the first time in a week, deaths had fallen slightly from the day before, but there were still nearly 600 new fatalities and more than 7,300 new cases. Places such as Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C., are starting to see rising deaths.
“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Fox News on Sunday. “It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that new hospitalizations had fallen by 50% over the previous 24 hours. He cautioned that it was not yet clear whether the crisis was reaching a plateau in the state, which has a total of 4,159 deaths and more than 122,000 cases.
Click here for a graphic on U.S. coronavirus cases
Once the peak of the epidemic passes, Cuomo said a mass rollout of rapid testing would be critical to help the nation “return to normalcy.”
Most states have ordered residents to stay home except for essential trips to slow the spread of the virus in the United States, where more than 335,000 people have tested positive and over 9,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
But eight states, all of them with Republican governors, have yet to order residents to stay home: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Georgia, which has recorded 6,600 cases and more than 200 deaths, ordered residents to stay home but then allowed some beaches to reopen.
Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson defended his refusal to order statewide restrictions, saying the situation was being watched closely and that his more “targeted approach” was still slowing the spread of the virus.
Adams, the surgeon general, said governors who had not issued month-long stay-at-home orders should at least consider one for the upcoming week.
CHURCH BUSES IN PARISHIONERS
A few churches were holding large gatherings on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week in Christian churches.
Pastor Tony Spell, who was arrested last week for holding services, summoned his faithful again, three weeks after Louisiana banned gatherings of 10 people or more.
Hundreds of worshippers converged on Spell’s Life Tabernacle megachurch in a suburb of Baton Rouge, many arriving in 26 buses sent to pick them up. Everyone but immediate family members kept at least 6 feet (1.8 m) apart, a lawyer for the pastor said.
“They would rather come to church and worship like free people than live like prisoners in their homes,” Spell told reporters.
Louisiana has become a hot spot for the virus, reporting a jump in deaths to nearly 500 and more than 13,000 cases. The governor predicted the state would run out of ventilators by Thursday.
Michigan reported 1,493 new cases on Sunday and a further 77 fatalities, taking the state’s death toll to 617.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said the city had enough ventilators to get through Tuesday or Wednesday, and he was seeking between 1,000 and 1,500 more from federal and state stockpiles, which he estimated had 10,000 and 2,800, respectively.
Oregon, which has reported around 1,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, said it was sending New York 140 ventilators, machines that help people breathe after the virus attacks their lungs. Washington is returning over 400 of the machines to the Strategic National Stockpile for hard-hit states like New York.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
President Donald Trump said in a Tweet on Sunday that “a rough two weeks are coming up.”
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, whose state has seen cases flatten after early action, said if other states did not also impose strict measures, the virus would simply circulate.
Kate Lynn Blatt, 38, a property manager from rural Pottsville, Pennsylvania, said she was astounded that her state’s governor, Tom Wolf, waited until last Wednesday to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
“We were shocked. I can’t believe Trump hasn’t issued a nationwide order and I still can’t believe there are states that are still open,” Blatt said.
Reporting by Susan Heavey and Amanda Becker in Washington, Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Joseph Ax in New York, Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England, and Daniel Trotta; Writing by Lisa Shumaker and Andrew Hay; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney
View original article here Source