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More U.S. states lock populations down as COVID-19 cases climb

The coronavirus pandemic keeps burning through the U.S. population. The country now has 160,000 confirmed cases of the illness and 2,900 deaths -- and infections are still rising. In New York state, the nation’s worst hot spot, Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to appeal for outside help. But health care systems across the country are straining to support the surge in patients. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A new week has dawned in the era of COVID-19, and the pandemic keeps burning through the U.S. population.

    Infections across the nation are near 160,000 and still rising, with some 3,000 deaths. The spread has now put Washington, D.C., and its neighboring states into lockdown, and New York state is urgently appealing for outside help.

    We begin with this report from Amna Nawaz.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    At the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, New York undertakes new steps to care for the continuing tide of patients, as state health officials anticipate a peak in two to three weeks. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    You have to prepare before the storm hits. And, in this case, the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit the apex. How do you know when you're going to get there? You don't. There is no crystal ball.

    But there is science and there is data and there are health professionals who have studied this virus and its progress since China.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The death toll here has now exceeded 1,200, and known confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 66,000,. As New York's health care system overflows, help arrived today on the Hudson River. The U.S. Navy ship Comfort docked in Manhattan, bringing with it 1,000 hospital beds for non-COVID-19 patients.

    Part of New York City's Central Park, normally bustling in the springtime, is now crowded with white tents, a makeshift field hospital to handle an influx of patients, and, at the Javits Center, lines of empty hospital beds. A convention center is now a clinic in waiting.

    New York is not alone in seeing a rapid increase in cases. Across the country, surges in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and San Francisco are straining health care systems from coast to coast.

    Officials in Michigan saw an increase of 1,800 cases in just two days.

  • Joneigh Khaldun:

    We are still in the early stages of spread in Michigan, and cases have not yet peaked.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland became the latest to issue stay-at-home orders. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan:

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Even President Trump, once eager to reopen the country by Easter, is now extending federal social distancing advisories for at least another month.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We picked the end of April, the last day, April 30, as the day where we can see some real progress, and we expect to see that.

    And then, by a little short of June, maybe June 1, we think the — it's a terrible thing to say, but we think that death will be at a very low number. It'll be brought down to a very low number.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That number, White House experts say, could still be up to 200,000 dead.

    Meanwhile, overseas more measures to stop the spread, empty streets in Moscow, as Russia locks down, prohibiting any nonessential outside movement.

    In India, the sweeping 1.3 billion-person lockdown continues. And in Spain, where known case now top 85,000, a sign that social distancing is starting to work.

  • Maria Jose Sierra (through translator):

    From the day that the general social distancing measures began throughout Spain, from 15th to the 25th of March, the increase in average cases was about 20 percent, and since that day, it is about 12 percent.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The World Health Organization warned that, worldwide, the most vulnerable communities will be the hardest-hit.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

    If we are closing or if we're limiting movement, what is it going to happen to those people who have to work on daily basis and have to earn their bread on a daily basis?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Back in the U.S., the U.S. the economic hits keep coming. Today, department store powerhouse Macy's announced it will furlough most of its roughly 130,000 employees, leaving tens of thousands of more Americans facing an uncertain and uneasy future.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Wall Street, for its part, rallied again today, led by health care companies working on potential coronavirus tests and vaccines.

    The Dow Jones industrial average gained 690 points to close at 22327. The Nasdaq rose 271 points, and the S&P 500 added 85.

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