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U.S. officials urge adherence to social distancing as NY infections slow

The human cost of the novel coronavirus pandemic is still rising worldwide, but infections may be leveling off in Italy, Spain and New York, which lost nearly 800 people to the disease Tuesday. U.S. officials at both the state and federal levels are urging people to remain vigilant about social distancing even as its adoption appears to be flattening the curve of new cases. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The human cost of the coronavirus pandemic is still rising worldwide tonight, including well over 14,000 confirmed deaths in the United States.

    At the same time, infections are leveling off in parts of Europe, with similar signs in New York state, despite the number of deaths hitting a new high there.

    We begin with John Yang, reporting on the day's events.

  • John Yang:

    In New York, the nation's coronavirus epicenter, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the hospitalization rate may be slowing.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    We are flattening the curve by what we are doing.

  • John Yang:

    But that doesn't mean people should be any less vigilant.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    If we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change. That curve is purely a function of what we do day in and day out.

  • John Yang:

    In fact, yesterday, New York saw the highest number of deaths yet in a single day, nearly 800.

    In New York City, there have been so many deaths, authorities are using refrigerated trucks to store remains. And New York's numbers show that African-Americans and Hispanics there are dying at higher rates than whites.

  • Man:

    We're here for you and we support you.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • John Yang:

    Amid the grim work on the medical front lines, signs of support. Police officers, firefighters and health care workers cheered each other outside a hospital in Newark.

    Meanwhile, the University of Washington's forecasting model, one of many often cited by the White House, lowered its estimate of U.S. coronavirus deaths. Today, it projected more than 60,000 Americans would die by early August, down from 84,000.

    But the University of Washington's model has been on the low side, and there are questions about the accuracy of the official death count. Some say it may overlook those who die at home without seeking medical care, and those who die without being tested for coronavirus.

    In Washington, D.C., Trump administration officials say they are planning for life after the pandemic, but cautioned that was still a ways off.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci on FOX News:

  • Anthony Fauci:

    If in fact we are successful, it makes sense to at least plan what a reentry into normality would look like. That doesn't mean we're going to do it right now, but it means we need to be prepared to ease into that.

  • John Yang:

    Dr. Deborah Birx on NBC's "Today."

  • Deborah Birx:

    What's really important is that people don't turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread.

    It's really critical. And you can see the delay. So, if people start going out again and socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early.

  • John Yang:

    President Trump expressed optimism on Twitter, saying the U.S. would "open up our great country sooner, rather than later."

    In Geneva, the World Health Organization director-general responded to the president's charge that the group mishandled the pandemic.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

    When there are cracks at the national level and global level, that's when the virus succeeds.

  • John Yang:

    In Britain, where more than 6,000 people have died, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be getting better after a third night in the hospital.

  • Rishi Sunak:

    His condition is improving. I can also tell you that he has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team.

  • John Yang:

    Spirits were also high in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, after its 76-day lockdown was lifted.

    Tens of thousands of people rushed to leave the city of 11 million, clogging bus terminals and train stations. Authorities wearing masks and protective gear checked travelers for fevers. For some who had been stuck in Wuhan, it was a welcome relief.

  • Wang Wenshu (through translator):

    I haven't been out since January 21. This is the first time I left my house today. Now I'm going back home to meet my parents.

  • John Yang:

    At day's end, the city celebrated with a light show.

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

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