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Coronavirus death toll overwhelms New York morgues

Covid-19 cases surpassed 50,000 infections killing nearly 1,400

By Reuters in New York

  • Published 3.04.20, 5:35 AM
  • Updated 3.04.20, 5:35 AM
A body wrapped in plastic is unloaded from a refrigerated truck and handled by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to Covid-19 concerns, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at Brooklyn Hospital Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
A body wrapped in plastic is unloaded from a refrigerated truck and handled by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to Covid-19 concerns, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at Brooklyn Hospital Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP)

The coronavirus pandemic’s mounting death toll began to overwhelm New York City morgues on Thursday as hospitals struggled to treat thousands of infected patients with a dwindling supply of ventilators and protective equipment.

Funeral homes and cemetery directors described a surge in demand unseen in decades as Covid-19 cases, the respiratory ailment caused by the novel coronavirus, surpassed 50,000 infections in the city, killing nearly 1,400. “In many ways New York state is a microcosm of the United States and that’s why I think it is going to be illustrative to the rest of the nation as to what is going to happen,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The human costs were underscored by staggering new evidence of the economic devastation.

With more than 90 per cent of Americans ordered to ride out the crisis at home, the US government reported that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for jobless benefits last week. That was double the previous all-time high set a week earlier.

“It takes your breath away,” Justin Hoogendoorn, head of fixed income strategy and analytics at Piper Sandler in Chicago, said of the jobless data.

“Obviously the immediate reaction to something like that is going to be fear.”

Texas became the 40th state to issue a stay-at-home order on Thursday to help contain the spread of the virus. Combined with city and county orders, more than 90 per cent of the US population was on some form of lockdown.

As if 10 million Americans losing their jobs in two weeks were not enough, the US death toll soared by 950 on Wednesday, marking the third day in a row of record increases. Additional deaths reported on Thursday increased the national toll to more than 5,600 dead, according to a Reuters tally of official data.

Confirmed US cases surpassed 233,000 on Thursday, double that of Italy, the country with the second most.

Globally, the number of confirmed infections approached one million with more than 50,000 fatalities as of Thursday, led by Italy with over 13,000 dead. 

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