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U.S. restrictions on movement likely to persist as death toll tops China’s

The U.S. death toll from novel coronavirus has now exceeded that of China. While Italy and Spain have recorded many more deaths, the U.S. has the most confirmed cases of the illness. Dozens of states have limited residents’ movement outside their homes. And in New York, the national epicenter of the outbreak, a convention center has been converted into an overflow hospital. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Coronavirus deaths in the United States have reached a new milestone, 3,700. That overtakes China's officially announced total of 3,300.

    Italy and Spain each have recorded many more deaths, while the U.S. has far and away the most cases of any country, more than 180,000 so far.

    President Trump warned tonight that the country faces — quote — "a very tough two weeks."

    And, everywhere, officials scramble to keep up.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Across New York City, local landmarks are joining the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. The Javits Convention Center, now a 1,000-bed hospital, took in its first overflow patients last night, that as New York, the epicenter of America's outbreak, saw known cases in the state top 75,000.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he purchased 17,000 new ventilators from China. The need, he said, is desperate.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    You know how you know I really, really believe that number? Because we are paying $25,000 per ventilator. And we are broke. And the last thing I want to do is buy a single ventilator that I don't need.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The need is also great in Louisiana, where 239 have died.

    Governor John Bel Edwards warned today, with over 5,200 known cases and over 1,300 hospitalized, the state may run out of ventilators this weekend. He implored residents to do all they can to slow the spread.

  • Governor John Bel Edwards:

    Stay at home, stop the spread and save lives. There's no way to see that number and not be startled. And, look, I'm telling people to expect things to get worse before they get better.

    And I saw the number, and I was startled.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Hospital beds are filling up, but streets remain largely empty across the country. As of tonight, Arizona and Tennessee join the dozens of states limiting residents' activity outside their homes.

    All told, at least 32 states now have some sort of stay-at-home order in place, affecting more than three-quarters of the entire U.S. population. And those directives are unlikely to ease soon, according to projections from the White House this week.

    President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines until the end of April, after new models estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die of the virus.

    White House lead coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci:

  • Anthony Fauci:

    If we pulled back on what we were doing and didn't extend them, there would be more avoidable suffering and avoidable death.

    But it was patently obvious, looking at the data, that, at the end of the day, if we try to push back prematurely, not only would we lose lives, but it probably would even hurt the economy.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    President Trump, meanwhile, proposed that the government take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates, slashed to mitigate the pandemic fallout, and move forward on a — quote — "very big and bold" $2 trillion infrastructure bill.

    Leaders in other countries, like Chile and Hungary, are taking advantage of the uncertainty with power grabs, cracking down on dissenters and consolidating power. Officials at the European Union expressed concern today.

  • Eric Mamer:

    Respect of freedom of expression and legal certainty are essential in these uncertain times.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But in Europe's hardest-hit nation of Italy, a glimmer of hope, a health official announcing the three-week-long national lockdown has led to a leveling off of new infections.

    In memory of the thousands of Italian victims so far, a moment of silence tonight in Rome. Nearby, in Spain, nearly 850 deaths today made it the country's deadliest 24-hour stretch.

    So, on the streets of Madrid, in the pouring rain, police officers, ambulance drivers, and street cleaners stood in silence to pay their respects.

    In other cities, sounds of gratitude echoed in the streets. From Singapore skyscrapers to townhouses in England, residents worldwide stuck at home stepped outside to take part in a new pandemic tradition, applauding medical workers fighting the virus, as one shift ends and another begins.

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

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