(CNN) – The New York governor signed an order to bring additional funeral directors as the number of coronavirus cases in the state outnumbered all countries except the United States.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order will make it easier for licensed funeral directors from other states to work in New York.
At least 16,686 people have died of covid-19 in the United States, nearly half of them in New York State. Of the total 466,299 confirmed cases across the country, some 162,000 are in New York, data from Johns Hopkins University show.
The United States will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to models by the leading Institute for Health Assessment and Metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.
According to his estimate, by August, 60,415 people in the United States will have died from coronaviruses, assuming that social distancing policies continue until May. That projection is lower than the 82,000 forecast earlier this week.
Although the model lowered its numbers nationwide, it released key differences by region and state. For example, New York saw an increase in total projected deaths.
The New York City chief medical examiner’s office issued a memorandum extending the length of time a body can be in its custody to 14 days. Hart Island, which has served as a public cemetery for decades, is serving as a resting place for unclaimed victims of coronavirus, according to New York officials.
The director of a funeral home in Queens, Patrick Kearns, said the extension will help with the influx of victims. He said he receives 30 to 40 calls a day, the same number he would get in a typical month before the pandemic.
Social distancing seems to be working, officials say
As states prepare for the peak period, experts say social distancing appears to be working.
In New York, Cuomo said Thursday that the number of people hospitalized in the state is decreasing but that deaths have increased. He described deaths as a lagging indicator, saying those who fail to recover tend to have been hospitalized longer.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed a similar sentiment.
“At the same time that we see an increase in deaths, we see a pretty dramatic decrease in the need for hospitalizations,” Fauci said. “That means that what we are doing is working and therefore we must continue to do it.”
Social distancing is playing a crucial role in the fight against the coronavirus, said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We are not helpless. This virus has a very significant weakness, it cannot go more than two meters, “he said.
Some states remain cautiously optimistic about the latest developments. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont said new hospitalizations are on the decline, while Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state has the fewest hospitalizations per 100,000 people compared to other neighboring states.
In Ohio, while the number of coronavirus-related deaths continues to rise, the number of people affected by the virus is less than anticipated, Governor Mike DeWine said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state has seen a 1.9% drop in people in intensive care, and the stay-at-home order appears to be working.
“I think we are seeing the consequences of that when we see that our death rate is actually much lower than had been predicted, and it really shows that this mitigation works,” Redfield said. “I think we are reaching the peak, as we sit here today, where we can see the other side of the curve, and we will see that this outbreak continues to decrease in the coming weeks.”
While maintaining social distancing measures appears to be holding back the spread in some areas, reopening the country will require a strategy and an understanding of the scope of the broadcast, experts say.
“It will not be a unique strategy. We will use the data we have from surveillance to really understand where the most important places are for us to start reopening, ”said Redfield.
Americans have the potential to take summer vacations this year, as long as aggressive mitigation efforts continue now and they get to a place where they can be modified, Fauci said.
CDC will not recommend hydroxychloroquine
As the coronavirus ravages the world, some states are rushing to obtain hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that President Donald Trump has touted as a possible treatment.
The drug has not been fully tested, but some states are collecting doses for their patients. Redfield, the CDC director, said he does not recommend the drug.
“At this stage, at this time, we are not recommending it, we are not recommending it,” Redfield said. “We recommend that the doctor and the patient have that discussion.”
The CDC removed the guidelines from its website for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Trump has lobbied federal health officials to make the drugs more available despite little reliable evidence that they are effective in treating the virus.
“We feel very comfortable responding when we have compelling data,” Redfield said Thursday at the CNN Global Forum. “The CDC, as an organization… we are not an organization of opinion. We are a data-driven organization based on science. So I think it will be an independent decision from these healthcare providers and patients. “
Despite the lack of a vaccine, the CDC is preparing for what could happen next year, which is expected to be a challenge, too, Redfield said, adding that proactive steps will change the way the country faces another. outbreak.
“That includes identifying cases early, isolating people who are sick, and tracking people the person has come into contact with while they were infected,” she said. “We don’t have to follow the serious mitigation steps we’re taking to keep ourselves under control.”
The economy suffers a great blow
Social distancing is helping to keep coronavirus deaths low, but it is also having a major effect on the economy.
About 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefit payments last week, data released on Thursday shows. That means more than 16.8 million Americans have sought unemployment aid since mid-March.
And 45 economists say the United States is already in recession and will continue to do so for the first half of the year. They predicted a short and sharp recession, for the first half of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic severely restricts economic activity.
Economic growth probably fell at a rate of 2.4% in the first quarter, and will slow a staggering 26.5% in the second quarter, according to the survey by the National Association for Business Economics.
Despite the abrupt recession, economists are optimistic that the economy will recover in the second half of 2020, growing at a rate of almost 6% by the end of the year.
– CNN’s Ben Tinker, Nicole Chavez, Jason Hanna and Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.