New York City's death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed the number of those killed at the World Trade Center on 9-11, health officials said Tuesday. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care with the virus.
At least 3,202 people have died in New York from COVID-19, according to the count released by the city. The deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil killed 2,753 people in the city and 2,977 overall, when hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.
New York state recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths, its biggest one-day jump yet, for a statewide toll of nearly 5,500, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There's a family, there's a mother, there's a father, there's a sister, there's a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers,” he said.
But in an encouraging sign, Cuomo reported that hospital admissions and the number of those receiving breathing tubes are dropping, indicating that measures taken to force people to keep their distance from one another are succeeding.
And alarming as the one-day increase in deaths might sound, the governor said that's a “lagging indicator,” reflecting severely ill people who had been hospitalized before this week. Over the past several days, in fact, the number of deaths in New York appeared to be levelling off.
“You see that plateauing - that's because of what we are doing. If we don't do what we are doing, that is a much different curve," he said. "So social distancing is working.”
Across the U.S., the death toll topped 11,000, with around 370,000 confirmed infections. Some of the deadliest hot spots included Detroit, New Orleans and the New York metropolitan area, which includes parts of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In London, the 55-year-old Johnson, the world's first head of government known to have fallen ill with the virus, was in stable condition and conscious at a hospital, where he was receiving oxygen but was not on a ventilator, said his spokesman James Slack. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated to run the country in the meantime.
“We're desperately hoping that Boris can make the speediest possible recovery,” said Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is among scores of British officials in self-isolation.
Elsewhere around the world, Japan's prime minister declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions after a spike in infections, but it was a stay-at-home request - not an order - and violators will not be penalized. Japan has relatively few infections and deaths but has the world's oldest population, and the elderly have proved especially vulnerable to the virus.
In some European hot spots, as in New York, authorities saw signs that the outbreak was turning a corner. In Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries, new deaths Tuesday rose to 743 and infections climbed by 5,400 after five days of declines, but the increases were believed to reflect a weekend backlog. Authorities said slowing the contagion will be a long process and were confident in the downward trend.
Italy's commissioner for fighting the COVID-19 virus appealed to Italians ahead of Easter weekend not to lower their guard and to abide by a lockdown now in its fifth week, even though pressure on intensive care wards is easing.
One of the main models on the outbreak, from the University of Washington, is now projecting about 82,000 U.S. deaths through early August.