Tallying more than 163,000 cases in the US, the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 tracker put the country at 3,008 fatalities late on Monday evening, nearly half of them from New York, which has quickly become the nation’s major viral hotspot.
The dark landmark was achieved as authorities in Arizona and Kentucky joined dozens of other states and cities with lockdown measures, with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey imposing a sweeping stay-at-home order, and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signing an executive order urging residents to not leave the state. Some 250 million Americans currently face similar travel restrictions across 30 states, or about 75 percent of the entire US population.
After repeatedly suggesting federal social distancing guidelines designed to limit the spread of the virus could be relaxed by Easter, President Donald Trump reversed course on Monday, telling reporters the measures would have to be “toughened up” at least until the end of April and that Americans could expect “challenging times” over the next month.
"The guidelines will be very much as they are, maybe even toughened up a little bit."
Anthony Fauci, a senior member of the White House Covid-19 task force and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the virus could continue to pose problems even into the fall – warning of a possible second outbreak – but added that the country would be better equipped to respond at that point.
Containment efforts have focused on New York as of late, where nearly half of the country’s confirmed cases have been reported, with the Navy, Army and National Guard working to take pressure off the state’s crowded hospitals and morgues. New Jersey, California and Michigan have also become major hotspots, each reporting in excess of 5,000 infections.
Worldwide, the virus has sickened over 784,000 people and killed more than 37,600, largely concentrated in the US, Italy, Spain and China – though the majority of patients in the latter country have since recovered. The global disease toll has climbed rapidly in recent days, seeing tens of thousands of new cases and thousands of fatalities each day.