CHICAGO -- The U.S. has recorded more than 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, overtaking Italy for the highest death toll in the world.
About half of the deaths in the United States happened in New York state, but fear is mounting over the spread of the virus into the nation’s heartland.
Hot spots of contagion are erupting in the Midwest, including nursing home deaths in Indiana and Iowa and deaths at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.
Cook County has also set up a temporary morgue that can take more than 2,000 bodies. Globally, confirmed infections rose above 1.7 million.
Italy tops 19,000 coronavirus deaths
Italy has topped 19,000 deaths and 150,000 cases of the coronavirus. The milestones were hit Saturday, even as the country continued to see a slight decrease in numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care.
Deaths rose by 3.2%, or 619, to 19,468, while the number of people who tested positive for the virus reached 152,271, an increase of 4,694, or 3.1%.
Officials have been warning Italians not to keep their guard down even if the number of new cases and deaths is narrowing, especially on the Easter holiday weekend when many are tempted to go to the countryside or seashore.
Police checkpoints were set up around major arteries in Milan, the capital of the hardest-hit region of Lombardy — with 38% of all cases and more than half of all deaths.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.