The new coronavirus continues to infect hundreds of Americans by the day and prompts growing layoffs, forcing health workers and government officials in the United States to brace for the worst.
Doctors are making difficult decisions about daily life, cash-strapped hospitals are struggling to order ventilators, and authorities nationwide are turning to lockdowns, mass closures and bans on large gatherings as they try to “flatten the curve.”
But a chilling new U.K. study raises the question of whether it may be enough. The study, reportedly being examined by the White House’s coronavirus task force, suggested that only trying to slow the spread of the virus could nonetheless overwhelm hospital beds and lead to upwards of a million deaths in the United States.
As of late Wednesday, more than 8,700 cases had been reported across the United States, including more than 130 deaths. Two members of Congress, Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), said Wednesday they had tested positive.
New York in particular announced a steep climb of 1,008 new cases since Tuesday, through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) attributed the increase to expanded testing. The state now has more confirmed cases than all but 10 countries in the world.
Also on Wednesday, White House officials announced several measures to tighten the United States’s land borders: Authorities would immediately send migrants who cross the southern border illegally back to Mexico, they said, while closing the northern border to nonessential traffic.
The outbreak and its dramatic impact on the economy appear to be redefining Donald Trump’s presidency, with more than half of Americans saying he has downplayed the virus too much, according to a new survey.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, Trump ramped up his attempts to rebrand the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” brushing aside concerns that is unscientific and could incite racial attacks.
“It’s not racist at all,” he said Wednesday. “It comes from China, that’s why.”