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WHO warns U.S. may become coronavirus’ new global epicenter, as India locks down

Confirmed U.S. cases of coronavirus have reached 50,000, with more than 600 deaths. But as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned of dire conditions in hospitals, Wall Street rallied and President Trump spoke of easing government restrictions soon in order to lessen the economic pain of the pandemic. Meanwhile, India has gone into lockdown. Amna Nawaz and special correspondent Neha Poonia report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump is talking tonight about reopening the country for business soon. That comes as coronavirus infections in the United States exceed 50,000, with more than 600 deaths.

    Meanwhile, New York state warned of increasingly desperate conditions today. But, in financial markets, the Dow Jones industrial average surged 11 percent. That's the most since 1933, as an economic rescue bill progressed in the U.S. Senate.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In the city that never sleeps, empty streets, as coronavirus cases surge in New York, making it the new epicenter for the United States.

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned today of dire consequences in his state and the rest of the country.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    As the number of cases go up, the number of people in hospital beds goes up, the number of people who need an ICU bed and a ventilator goes up, and we cannot address that increasing curve.

    Where we are today, you will be in three weeks or four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The World Health Organization issued a similar caution, saying the U.S., now responsible for 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases, could become the global epicenter of the pandemic.

    Around the world, extraordinary steps in some countries to contain further virus spread. In the world's second-most populous nation, a 21-day lockdown for India's 1.3 billion residents, announced today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi (through translator):

    From 12:00 midnight today, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown. To save India, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The Summer Olympic Games, which have historically only been canceled in times of war, were postponed today by host Japan.

  • Prime Minister Shinzo AbeĀ (through translator):

    For the athletes, the athletes of the world, for them to be able to compete in the best environment, and also for the Games to be won, which are safe and worry-free for spectators, I asked if it would be possible to consider postponing the Games for approximately a year.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And in Spain, among the hardest-hit countries in Europe, the death toll has so overwhelmed the system, a Madrid ice rink is being used to house the dead.

    Here in the United States, as cases continue to rise, over a dozen states have imposed additional stay-at-home restrictions in recent days. Even as health officials urge continued social distancing, President Trump today at a FOX News town hall said he'd like to see those restrictions ease by Easter, less than three weeks away.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We have had bad epidemics. I'm sure they could have been called pandemics.

    But we never did anything like this before, but I had to do it. It's been very painful for our country and very destabilizing for our country, but we have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought. And people can go back to work, and they can also practice good judgment.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Lawmakers looking to mitigate the economic impact with a stimulus deal pressed on with negotiations today, expressing confidence for the first time in days.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    Now, at last, I believe we are on the five-yard line. The American people need our Democratic friends to take yes for an answer.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    We all know that not everyone is going to want every provision. We all know that there are many things that so many of us want are left out, but we all know that we must do these things.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    At the White House this morning, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said the deal will speed up recovery.

  • Larry Kudlow:

    Public health includes economic health. That's the key point. And it's not either/or.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But as the U.S. braces for an even greater impact, signs of recovery in China. In Hubei province, ground zero for the virus, main streets came back to life, and officials said outbound travel restrictions for many cities will be lifted tomorrow.

    Still, health officials here say vigilance will remain high.

  • Zou Yu (through translator):

    If the community is identified as an epidemic-free area, residents who need to return to work will be allowed to enter and leave the residency with a green health code and a certificate from the employer.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Slowly easing restrictions, and cautiously adjusting to a new normal.

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

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As Amna just reported, the world's second most-populous country is on lockdown tonight. India is taking this drastic move at the order of its prime minister to stem the outbreak there, in a country with a less-than-reliable health care system, widespread poverty and underserved populations.

    Special correspondent Neha Poonia in Delhi brings us up to date.

  • Neha Poonia:

    In a televised address to the entire nation, Prime Minister Modi said that every Indian, all 1.3 billion of them, must forget what it's like to step outside their homes for the next 21 days.

    Prime Minister Modi announced a complete nationwide lockdown, while citing the example of Italy and the U.S., saying that when developed countries with robust health care setups have been unable to stop a mass outbreak, India stands no chance, unless every Indian stays indoors and self-isolates.

    Essential services will continue to operate during the next three weeks. This includes hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, but all air, land and rail travel has been banned entirely. Prime Minister Modi also announced a nearly $2 billion investment in India's health care infrastructure setup.

    This money, over the next few weeks, will be used by testing kits, hazmat suits, ventilators, as well as to train medical staff. Critics say India's biggest challenge is the fact that its public health care setup is overstretched and underfunded, and the government seems to be addressing some of that criticism through this move.

    The prime minister, however, was silent on why India isn't testing more people. The government claims that, because there is no community transmission, there's no need to test everyone, and that mass testing will only lead to more panic on the ground.

    India can test 10,000 people daily, but, in the last two months, it's only tested 20,000 people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That is special correspondent Neha Poonia in New Delhi.

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