The United States on Friday became the first country to record more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths in one day, with 2,108 fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
The US has now recorded over 18,680 deaths and is closing in on the toll of 18,850 dead in Italy, which has seen the most fatalities so far in the global pandemic.
America is also approaching half a million confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 501,000 as of Saturday morning an increase of 35,098 in the past 24 hours.
Globally, there have been nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases, with the death toll topping 100,000 on Friday.
New York state, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, along with the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut, were recording some of the worst outbreaks in the country, even as public health authorities expressed optimism that the pace of infections appeared to be slowing.
As of Saturday, the New York City metropolitan area had 5,820 coronavirus deaths, accounting for more than half the nation’s fatalities.
The US is on track to overtake Italy as the country with the highest number of dead, though the true figures on infections and lives lost around the world are believed be much higher because of limited testing, government cover-ups and different counting practices.
With many Americans celebrating the Easter holiday on Sunday, the top US infectious disease expert warned that it is too early to relax restrictions on Americans.
“Now is no time to back off,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
The social distancing guidelines have taken a toll on the U.S. economy. Some economists are forecasting job losses of up to 20 million in April, raising questions about how long business closures and travel restrictions can be sustained.