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U.S. death toll passes 10,000; British prime minister in ICU

The U.S. death toll from coronavirus has passed 10,000, as public health officials warn Americans to brace for a sad and somber week. Although cases appear to be leveling off in New York, they are surging in Michigan and other parts of the country. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hospitalized and moved to the ICU. John Yang and special correspondent Ryan Chilcote report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit a new milestone in the United States, claiming more than 10,000 lives.

    And across the Atlantic, there is word that the prime minister of Britain, who has had the coronavirus, is now seriously ill.

    All of this comes as the peak may have arrived in parts of Europe and as the worst the U.S. hot spot may see a little light on the horizon.

    We begin with this report from John Yang.

  • John Yang:

    In the main battleground of the U.S. war against the coronavirus, a possible glimmer of hope today. New York state reported a slight decline in deaths and hospitalizations over the weekend.

    But Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that the crisis is not over.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    It doesn't really matter if we have hit the plateau or not, because you have to do the same thing. If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a very high level, and there's tremendous stress on the health care system.

  • John Yang:

    Governors in other states, now developing their own hot spots, say the worst for them is yet to come.

  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

    We are not close to the apex yet. We haven't hit that yet. And until we do, I think it's absolutely essential that we're continuing to be aggressive.

  • John Yang:

    States like Michigan, New Jersey, California, and Louisiana are seeing cases skyrocket. They're among at least 42 states implementing some sort of stay-at-home orders. The rest are still resisting.

    On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said they are putting themselves at risk.

  • Anthony Fauci:

    Unfortunately, if you look at the projection of the curves, of the kinetics of the curves, we're going to continue to see an escalation.

    So, we will just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation because we got to get through this week that's coming up, because it is going to be a bad week.

  • John Yang:

    Surgeon General Jerome Adams compared the week ahead to other sobering moments in American history.

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams:

    This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only, it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.

  • John Yang:

    By contrast, last night, President Trump tried to project a tone of optimism.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We see light at the end of the tunnel.

  • John Yang:

    The president used the briefing again to promote an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine and cut off reporters' attempts to get Fauci's judgment.

  • Journalist:

    And what is the — what is the medical evidence?

  • President Donald Trump:

    Do you know how many times you've answered that question?

  • Anthony Fauci:


  • Journalist:

    But I'd love to hear from the doctor.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Maybe 15 — 15 times. You don't have to ask the question.

  • Journalist:

    He's — he's your medical expert, correct?

  • President Donald Trump:

    He's answered that question 15 times.

  • John Yang:

    While the drug has sped the recovery of some coronavirus patients, Fauci and other medical experts say the evidence is not conclusive.

    Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro has also been boosting the drug. Today, on CNN, he defended his position.

  • Peter Navarro:

    Doctors disagree about things all of the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I'm a social scientist.

    I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it's in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.

  • John Yang:

    In London, a British government spokesman said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to intensive care came after his condition worsened over the course of the afternoon. He was hospitalized Sunday night with persistent coronavirus symptoms.

    In a rare televised address to the nation, Queen Elizabeth offered a message of hope.

  • Queen Elizabeth II:

    We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.

  • John Yang:

    She appealed for Britons to show good-humored resolve and obey guidelines that have shuttered businesses and canceled events, including this year's British Open golf tournament, due to be played in July.

    Meanwhile, in Europe's hardest-hit nations, travel restrictions appear to be flattening the curve. French streets were mostly silent, despite sunny skies that lured Parisians outside.

    And, in Italy, Pope Francis opened Holy Week on Sunday in a mostly empty St. Peter's Basilica.

    Elsewhere, priests said Palm Sunday mass at a safe distance from rooftops. This weekend, France, Italy and Spain all had a drop in coronavirus deaths. But, in Japan, where new cases are surging, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today he would declare a state of emergency, shutting down much of the nation's densely populated urban centers for a month.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Wall Street took hope today from signs that the pandemic may be easing in some places. Major indexes jumped more than 7 percent.

    The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 1,600 points to close at 22680. The Nasdaq rose 540 points, and the S&P 500 added 175.

    And now for more on the news that the British prime minister has been moved to intensive care, I'm joined by special correspondent Ryan Chilcote from his home in London.

    So, Ryan, what is the latest?

  • Ryan Chilcote:

    Well, Boris Johnson, as we speak, is in intensive care.

    We learned just a couple of hours ago that he had been moved into intensive care. On March the 27th, he announced that he had been — he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was then self-isolating at the prime minister's residence.

    That went on until Saturday, when we learned that he was still running government affairs. And, on Sunday, we learned that he had been admitted to the hospital for — as a precautionary measure, we were told, for tests.

    It was at about 6:00 p.m. today that we learned that he had been moved from a regular unit inside the hospital into the intensive care unit. He, according to Sky News, was having trouble breathing and was given oxygen.

    So there has been quite precipitous decline in his health over the last 24 hours, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we understand, Ryan, I guess there is reporting that he is not on a ventilator. Is that your understanding?

  • Ryan Chilcote:

    That's correct. He's not on a ventilator, or at least that's the last we heard, and he is conscious.

    And before he was moved into the intensive care unit, he did have time to call the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, and deputize him.

    Now, there's no formal process of handing over of power in this country, but the foreign secretary is effectively now the number two. Boris Johnson has asked him to run the government's affairs, run the government's meetings in his absence. And that, he says, is exactly what he going to do until Boris Johnson gets better.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Ryan Chilcote reporting from London.

    And we should add that President Trump at his briefing taking place right now at the White House has said that he has offered U.S. medical specialists to be of help to the prime minister, if they could be helpful in any way.

    Ryan, thank you.

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