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Up to 200,000 US deaths foreseen as more cities stricken

  • Spanish Royal guard soldiers disinfect a hospital to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Spain and Italy demanded more European help as they fight still-surging coronavirus infections amid the continent's worst crisis since World War II. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP... Bernat Armangue

  • Men are framed by the Manhattan bridge as they exercise below the FDR drive in Lower Manhattan, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

  • A woman stands leaning against the window during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced that his government will order a two-week ban on commuting to all non-essential businesses starting on Monday. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe... Emilio Morenatti

  • A paramedic transports a patient into the Trauma Center at the Elmhurst Hospital Center, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

  • A red phone box stands in an empty street in Westminster, in London, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The public have been asked to self isolate, keeping distant from others to limit the spread of the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) Alberto Pezzali

  • Signs of support are shown on a window in Montreal, Sunday, March 29, 2020, as Coronavirus COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) Graham Hughes

  • Rev. Peter Gower waves to worshippers as they leave the parking lot where they listened over their radios to Mass he held from the front door of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Johnston, R.I. Gower started the Mass for those to attend from their cars last week as gatherings became restricted due to the coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health... David Goldman

  • Volunteers in protective suits spray disinfectant on passing vehicles helping curb the spread of the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The government Friday ordered a three-week lock-down for Kabul to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) Rahmat Gul

  • A coronavirus patient from Metz in France is transported from a military helicopter for treatment at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany, in bad weather Sunday March 29, 2020. Two COVID-19 coronavirus victims are to be treated in Germany. The COVID-19 coronavirus causes less serious symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness and even death. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP) Marcel Kusch

  • An Indian girl stands amid smoke as municipal workers fumigate an area spray disinfectants as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 in Ahmedabad, India, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the public on Sunday for imposing a three-week national lockdown, calling it harsh but "needed to win" the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and... Ajit Solanki

  • Italian police cars patrol the area outside an empty St.Peter's Square with the Basilica in the background during Pope Francis' angelus prayer from his studio overlooking an empty square due to restrictions to contain the Covid-19 virus, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Pope Francis is backing the U.N. chief's call for a cease-fire in all conflicts raging across the globe to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most... Andrew Medichini

  • People wearing masks stand in a queue to receive food being distributed during lockdown in Mumbai, India, Sunday, March 29, 2020. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the public on Sunday for imposing a three-week national lockdown, calling it harsh but "needed to win" the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause... Rafiq Maqbool

  • Only occasionally do cars drive over the city's largest traffic junction, the Riebeckplatz in Halle, Germany, March 29, 2020. There are exit restrictions throughout Germany due to the coronavirus. (Jan Woitas/dpa via AP) Jan Woitas

  • Travelers wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus line up for their train at the station in Beijing on Sunday, March 29, 2020. As the coronavirus epicenter has shifted westward, the situation has calmed in China, with falling death rates and most new cases coming from abroad, restrictions on travel have been slowly lifted. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) Ng Han Guan

  • People sit on benches at Primrose Hill, in London, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The public have been asked to self isolate, keeping distant from others to limit the spread of the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) Alberto Pezzali

Published: 3/29/2020 2:16:19 PM

NEW YORK — The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday as smoldering hotspots in nursing homes and a growing list of stricken cities heightened the sense of dread across the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected.

By midday, the U.S. had about 125,000 infections and 2,200 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unrecognized or unreported.

Worldwide, the count approached 700,000 infections, and deaths topped 32,000. World Health Organization figures showed the daily increase in new infections was eclipsing 70,000, up from about 50,000 earlier in the week, and more than six times what it was two weeks ago.

New York State — where the death toll closed in on 1,000, up by more than 200 from the day before — remained the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with the vast majority of the deaths in New York City. But spikes in infections were recorded around the country, not only in metropolitan areas but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

The virus’ spread was rampant at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other places that house elderly or otherwise vulnerable people. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the virus is moving through such places “like fire through dry grass.”

At one Long Island retirement community, Peconic Landing near Greenport, seven have died in the past two weeks. As has happened elsewhere, loved ones were barred to keep the virus from spreading.

“I have a feeling that I very likely may never see my mother again,” said James Preller, whose 94-year-old mother, Ann Preller, is a resident.

Brian Lee of Families for Better Care, an advocacy group for those living in longterm care facilities, said in a nursing home, “when we see an outbreak that’s uncontrolled, it’s practically a death sentence.” But he also said the way residents are being walled off from the outside world is as much of a concern as the virus itself.

In New York, the virus was overwhelming some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, with data showing high rates of infection in densely packed areas with big non-English-speaking populations.

Dr. Craig Smith, who heads the surgery department at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, said the hospital will probably be forced into “apocalyptic scenarios” in the coming weeks in which ventilators and intensive care unit beds will need to be rationed.

“Yesterday tried my soul,” he wrote in an online posting.

Worry for the poorest was being echoed around the world.

In India, a lockdown covering the country’s 1.3 billion people has put untold numbers out of work and left many families struggling to feed themselves. Tens of thousands in New Delhi were forced to flee their homes, with no way to pay the rent, journeying back to their native villages. Women in saris held babies on their hips. Others toted their belongings in bags normally used for cement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized for the hardships that the lockdown brought but said, “These tough measures were needed to win this battle.”

Though the U.S. leads the world in reported cases, five other countries have higher death tolls: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Spain and Italy alone accounted for more than half of the world’s deaths.

Italy reported more than 750 new fatalities Sunday, bringing the country’s total to nearly 10,800. But the number of new infections showed signs of easing, with officials expressing cautious optimism that the most severe shutdown in the industrialized West is showing results.

Italy’s civil protection agency said more than 5,200 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, the lowest number in four days, for a total of almost 98,000 infections.

Spain moved to tighten its lockdown and ban all nonessential work as it hit another daily record of almost 840 dead. The country’s overall official toll was more than 6,500.

Spain’s health emergencies chief, Fernando Simón, said the number of people in intensive care units keeps rising and hospitals are at their limits in several regions.

“That is why we have to strictly apply the control measures,” he said.

Egypt shut its beaches as cases in the Mideast surpassed 50,000. Police in the Philippines stepped up arrests of quarantine violators, and more tourists were evacuated from Mount Everest and the Indonesian island of Bali.

Poland is considering delaying its May 10 presidential election. Russia ordered borders to close on Monday, Moscow all but confined its 12 million residents to their homes, and the head of the Russian Orthodox called on believers to stay away from churches and pray at home instead.

A prominent French politician with the virus died, the country’s first death of a senior official.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death.

More than 145,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins.

President Donald Trump backtracked on a threat to quarantine New York and neighboring states amid criticism and questions about the legality of such a move. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging all residents of New York City and others in New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid all nonessential travel for 14 days.

Shocking as that is for Americans, that stopped short of the restrictions imposed in Europe or elsewhere. Parisians are fined if they try to leave the city, South Africans can’t even buy liquor, and Serbians are upset over a ban on walking their dogs. In Italy, burials are being held with only one family member.

Some U.S. states began to try to limit exposure from visitors from harder-hit areas. Rhode Island National Guard troops went door to door in coastal communities to find New Yorkers. Florida is setting up checkpoints to screen visitors from Louisiana.

“These are different times. Many people are frightened. Even governments are frightened and suggesting they’ll take abrupt actions against New York,” Cuomo said. “But listen, this is New York and we are going to make it through this.”

As others tightened controls, China continued to ease its restrictions, following the ruling Communist Party’s declaration of victory over the coronavirus. Airline flights from Hubei province at the epicenter of the country’s outbreak resumed Sunday.

___

Sedensky reported from Philadelphia. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Joseph Wilson in Madrid; Colleen Barry in Milan; Angela Charlton in Paris; Joe McDonald in Beijing; Geir Moulson in Berlin; and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak




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