Coronavirus hospital admissions in New York have dropped off but the state’s death toll has again spiked.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says new cases in hospitals fell to a fresh low of 200 in a sign the disease’s curve was flattening in the state, the epicenter of the US outbreak.
But at the same time, the state recorded a record-high 799 deaths on Wednesday, for a total of 7067.
“You can’t relax. The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday,” Mr Cuomo said, referring to the shape of graphs tracking new cases.
Several officials have hailed the apparent success of mitigation efforts as reflected in death projections that have been scaled down to 60,000 from more than 100,000.
Still, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top US infectious disease expert, said it was important that people continue to stay home.
“We’ve got to continue to redouble our efforts at the mitigation of physical separation in order to keep those numbers down and hopefully even get them lower than what you’ve heard recently,” said Mr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
A University of Washington model often cited by US and state officials projects that COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by coronavirus, will claim 60,415 American lives by August 4.
The peak is predicted on Easter Sunday this weekend, when the model projects that 2212 will die.
Mr Cuomo likened the crisis to the September 11, 2001, attacks, which killed almost 3000 people, and called it a “silent explosion”.
“9/11 was so devastating, so tragic and then in many ways we lose so many more New Yorkers to this silent killer,” he said.
“It was a silent explosion that just ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.”
Stay-at-home orders that have closed non-essential workplaces in 42 states have drastically slowed the once-humming US economy and thrown millions of people out of work.
With several state unemployment insurance offices deluged in recent weeks, 6.6 million workers applied for jobless benefits in the week ended April 4, the US Labor Department said on Thursday.
That followed 6.9 million jobless applications the week before, the most since the Great Recession of 2008.
In all, some 16.8 million American workers have applied for jobless benefits in the past three weeks.
US deaths due to coronavirus topped 16,000 on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, a number surpassed only by Italy, with a much smaller population.
More than 450,000 US residents have tested positive for the virus.