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‘Off the charts’: Virus hotspots grow in middle America

  • Emergency room nurses transport buckets of donated flowers up a ramp outside Elmhurst Hospital Center's emergency room, Saturday, March 28, 2020, in New York. The hospital has been heavily taxed by treating an influx of coronavirus patients during the current viral pandemic. Currently, New York leads the nation in the number of cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is keeping a running tally. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Kathy Willens

  • A person emerges from a tent set up in the driveway of the emergency entrance to Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York, Saturday, March 28, 2020, as others wait in line to be tested for coronavirus. The hospital is caring for a high number of coronavirus patients in the city. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Kathy Willens

  • An Indian migrant laborer's family is silhouetted as they make the journey to their village by foot, following a lockdown amid concern over spread of coronavirus in New Delhi, India, Saturday, March 28, 2020. Authorities sent a fleet of buses to the outskirts of India's capital on Saturday to meet an exodus of migrant workers desperately trying to reach their home villages during the world's largest coronavirus lockdown. Thousands of people, mostly young male day laborers but also... Altaf Qadri

  • Hospice personnel and residents applaud from a window of the elderly people's home to a Russian team who sanitized the structure to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, in Albino, near Bergamo, northern Italy, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP) Claudio Furlan - LaPresse

  • A nurse demonstrates outside the emergency entrance at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx borough of New York, Saturday, March 28, 2020, demanding more personal protective equipment for medical staff treating coronavirus patients. A member of the New York nursing community died earlier this week while treating coronavirus patients at another New York hospital. The city leads the nation in the number of COVID-19 cases, and the United States currently has the most cases in the world,... Kathy Willens

  • Members of a Russian team sanitize a hospice for elderly people to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, in Albino, near Bergamo, northern Italy, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP) Claudio Furlan - LaPresse

  • Don Marcello Crotti, left, blesses the coffins with Don Mario Carminati in the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) Antonio Calanni

  • A lantern hangs outside an empty restaurant Saturday, March 28, 2020, in the Shimbashi section of Tokyo. okyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has repeatedly asked the city's 13 million residents to stay home this weekend, saying the capital is on the brink of an explosion in virus infections. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • A priest wearing a face masks to protect against coronavirus performs funeral rites at a Madrid cemetery during the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Friday, March 27, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) Bernat Armangue

  • This GoPro image provided Saturday March 28, 2020 by the French Army shows doctors taking care of evacuated patients infected with the Covid-19 disease, aboard a military plane from Mulhouse, eastern France to Bordeaux, southwestern France, Friday March 27, 2020. France is evacuating its citizens infected with the coronavirus in Eastern France. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health...

  • People line up to buy supplies from a supermarket during the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The highly contagious CODIC-19 coronavirus has impacted on society around the globe, with many people self imposing isolation, and social distancing when they move from their homes. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) Manu Fernandez

  • A woman wearing a face mask and gloves protection against coronavirus buys vegetables in a municipal market in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The highly contagious CODIC-19 coronavirus has impacted on society around the globe, with many people self imposing isolation, and social distancing when they move from their homes. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) Manu Fernandez

  • A man carrying a bag on his had crosses the street as the South African National Defence Forces patrol a densely populated Alexandra township east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, March 28, 2020. South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause... Themba Hadebe

  • A hostel dweller watches on the South African National Defense Forces take positions ouside the hostel in a densely populated Alexandra township east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, March 28, 2020. South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause... Themba Hadebe

  • Indian workers arrange beds to prepare a quarantine center at the Sarusojai sports complex in Gauhati, India, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) Anupam Nath

  • President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrive to speak in front of the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, March 28, 2020. The ship is departing for New York to assist hospitals responding to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Patrick Semansky

Published: 3/28/2020 5:51:05 PM

As the United States led the world with confirmed coronavirus cases, cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans grew as hotspots Saturday, while the virus continued to pummel New York City and made its way into rural America.

Elsewhere, Russia said its borders would be fully closed as of Monday, while in parts of Africa, pandemic prevention measures took a violent turn, with Kenyan police firing tear gas and officers elsewhere seen on video hitting people with batons.

Worldwide infections surpassed 640,000 with nearly 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by John Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 112,000, but five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone now has 10,023 deaths, the most of any country.

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 protective face masks to the city and Cuomo delayed state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23.

Cases also have been rising rapidly in cities such as Detroit, where poverty and poor health have been problems for years. The number of infections surged to 1,381, with 31 deaths recorded, as of noon Saturday.

“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, who has worked in Detroit for more than 15 years, 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.

Louisiana has surpassed 2,700 infections, with 119 residents dead from COVID-19 — an increase of 36 fatalities from a day earlier, according to the health department. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana has the third-highest rate of cases per capita and the second-highest death rate per capita, with the region on track to run out of ventilators by the first week of April.

Officials urged residents and businesses to donate protective gear such as masks, gloves and face shields at New Orleans’ fire stations.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis worried that people would flee New Orleans, and he ordered anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine. He said the Florida Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies will set up checkpoints to screen cars from Louisiana.

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

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

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.

The virus is straining health systems in Italy, Spain and France. Lockdowns of varying severity have been introduced across Europe, nearly emptying streets in normally bustling cities.

Germany has fewer deaths than some neighboring countries but still closed nonessential shops and banned public gatherings of more than two people. Restrictions won’t be relaxed before April 20.

Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, reported 832 more deaths Saturday, its highest daily count yet, bringing its total to 5,690.

Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000. But Spain’s director of emergencies, Fernando Simón, saw hope in that figures “indicate that the outbreak is stabilizing and may be reaching its peak in some areas.”




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