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US COVID-19 case count tops 1 million

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US COVID-19 case count tops 1 million, one-third of confirmed global total
In the lead story on ABC World News Tonight, David Muir reported on “the sobering milestone” of “the number of confirmed cases in the US now topping one million – one-third of all cases worldwide; more than 58,000 lives lost, 2,000 in the last 24 hours.” USA Today (4/28, Rice, Yomtov, 10.31M) reports, “Reaching seven figures – 1,002,498 to be exact – is the latest milestone for the U.S., which has topped 57,000 deaths during the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. That’s a number approaching the 58,220 Americans killed in the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975.”

Reuters (4/28, Shumaker) says cases have doubled in the past 18 days and make up “one-third of all infections in the world.” Around 30 percent of US cases have occurred in New York state. The Wall Street Journal (4/28, Calfas, Jamerson, Xie, Subscription Publication, 7.57M) reports the new data comes as some states and countries consider easing the lockdowns. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic is “far from over,” urging states to test, isolate, and treat all cases of the disease.

Model cited by Administration officials anticipates 74,073 US deaths before fall. Politico (4/28, Forgey, 4.29M) reports that “a prominent forecasting model used by the White House to predict the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak on Monday revised its estimated death toll sharply upward, and is now projecting the disease could result in more than 74,000 fatalities across the United States by early August.” The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation “modified its forecast to a projected 74,073 deaths in the U.S. by August 4 – with an estimate range of 56,563 to 130,666.”

As states reopen economies, experts warn of risks. USA Today (4/28, Ortiz, 10.31M) reports that as states move to reopen businesses, “public health experts question their ability to monitor and handle the inevitable increase in cases that will follow.” John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley and an authority on infectious diseases, “pointed out some of the states leading the charge to lift constraints – among them Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Alaska – were not doing enough testing in the first place.” Swartzberg said, “They don’t know where they’re starting from, so they’re really doing this whole thing in a blind fashion. It’s like putting a blindfold on and walking forward.”

Businesses face challenge of wooing workers and consumers worried about safety. The Washington Post (4/28, A1, Lynch, Bhattarai, 14.2M) reports, “Plans for a swift reopening of malls, factories and other businesses accelerated Tuesday, but quickly collided with the reality that convincing workers and consumers to overlook their fears of the coronavirus and resume their customary roles powering the U.S. economy may prove difficult.” According to the Post, “hanging over plans to re-start the nation’s economic engine are unprecedented health concerns, as individuals balance each shopping trip, airplane flight and restaurant meal against the risk of catching a sometimes-fatal illness.” Getting the economy going “depends upon wooing workers and consumers to return to factories, restaurants and shops,” but “there already are signs that may not be easy.”

Skeptics raise doubts over necessity of lockdowns. The Washington Times (4/28, Richardson, 492K) reports, “As the statistical models on deaths are revised downward, and the economic and social costs of the stay-at-home strategy grow more dire, contrarians are diving into the data and asking whether the lockdown pain was worth the gain – or if the COVID-19 reaction was overblown.” Author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, “a leading voice among the COVID-19 contrarians,” said, “It is now clear that the lockdowns were a major mistake everywhere except the New York City metro area, and possibly even there.” In a similar vein, Stanford University School of Medicine professor John Ioannidis “said the lockdowns initially were ‘the right thing to do,’ based on the lack of reliable data, but widespread social isolation is no longer the appropriate response to what he described as a ‘very common, mild infection for the vast majority of the population.’”

Businesses seek limitations on pandemic liability before they reopen. The New York Times (4/28, Tankersley, Savage, 18.61M) reports, “Business lobbyists and executives are pushing the Trump administration and Congress to shield American companies from a wide range of potential lawsuits related to reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, opening a new legal and political fight over how the nation deals with the fallout” from COVID-19. Lobbyists argue “retailers, manufacturers, eateries and other businesses will struggle to start back up if lawmakers do not place temporary limits on legal liability in areas including worker privacy, employment discrimination and product manufacturing.” According to the Times, “the biggest push, business groups say, is to give companies enhanced protection against lawsuits by customers or employees who contract the virus and accuse the business of being the source of the infection.”

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