US virus deaths top 2,000, doubling in two days
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US virus deaths top 2,000, doubling in two days

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The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the United States, pummeling major cities like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, where an infant that tested positive for the virus died Saturday. It made its way, too, into rural America, where hotspots erupted in ski havens in the Rockies and small towns in the Midwest.

USA Today and the Washington Post reported U.S. virus deaths so far totaled more than 2,000 as of Saturday, doubling in less than 72 hours.

Worldwide infections surpassed the 650,000 mark with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 115,000, but five countries exceed its death toll of around 1,800: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone now has more than 10,000 deaths, the most of any country.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday that an infant with COVID-19 died and the cause of death is under investigation. Officials didn't release other information about the infant, who was from Chicago's Cook County, including whether the child had other health issues.

"If you haven't been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

New York remained the worst-hit U.S. city. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said defeating the virus will take "weeks and weeks and weeks." The U.N. donated 250,000 face masks to the city, and Cuomo delayed the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June 23.

As President Donald Trump made his way to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off a U.S. Navy medical ship sent to New York City to help, he suggested imposing some kind of quarantine for New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, all hit hard by the coronavirus. The federal government generally does not have the power to impose such restrictions on states.

But some states without known widespread infections began to try to limit exposure from visitors from their stricken neighbors.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday that the state National Guard would go door to door in coastal communities to find visitors from New York. and advise them about a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people from the state.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close Trump ally, told reporters he had spoken with the president about the possibility of a quarantine for the greater New York City area. DeSantis already ordered anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine and said law enforcement officers would set up checkpoints to screen cars from Louisiana.

Louisiana has surpassed 3,300 infections, with 137 dead from COVID-19, according to the health department. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the region was on track to run out of ventilators by the first week of April.

Cases also have been rising rapidly in Detroit, where poverty and poor health have been problems for years. The number of infections surged to 1,381, with 31 deaths, as of noon Saturday. The city's homeless population is especially vulnerable, officials said.

"At this time, the trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York," said Dr. Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center.

"This is off the charts," she said.

Chopra said many patients have ailments like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. She also acknowledged that in Detroit, one of the nation's largest African American cities, there is a distrust among some in the community of the medical system and government due to systemic racism.

"In Detroit, we are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease," said Chopra, who worried about a "tsunami" of patients.

Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing money for the outbreak. He has done the same for New York, Louisiana and Illinois.

Cases in Chicago and suburban Cook County accounted for about three-fourths of Illinois' 3,026 total as of Friday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed popular lakeshore parks after people failed to practice social distancing, despite a statewide shelter-at-home order.

The governor of Kansas also issued a stay-at-home order to begin Monday, as the virus takes hold in more rural areas where doctors worry about the lack of ICU beds.

A cluster of three counties in rural Indiana have surging rates of confirmed cases. One of them, Decatur, population 26,000, has 30 cases with one confirmed death and another suspected, said Sean Durbin, the county's public health emergency preparedness coordinator. Several cases were traced to large gatherings earlier in the month, including a religious retreat and a high school basketball tournament.

The disease will be particularly devastating in close-knit rural communities where everyone knows everyone, Durbin said, adding that he was a friend of the person believed to have died from the virus as well as others currently in critical condition.

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