As U.S. nears 500,000 coronavirus cases, should essential workers get hazard pay?

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As the U.S. nears 500,000 coronavirus cases, our team in Washington, D.C. is examining the issues that likely won’t be featured tonight during primetime cable news — including what lawmakers are doing to get additional pay in the pockets of health care workers. You can watch their original reporting in the video above.

NEW YORK (AP) — The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus surged past 100,000 Friday as the epidemic in the U.S. cut a widening swath through not just New York City but the entire three-state metropolitan area of 20 million people connected by a tangle of subways, trains and buses.

In the bedroom communities across the Hudson River in New Jersey, to the east on Long Island and north to Connecticut, officials 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 Friday, the New York metropolitan area accounted for more than half the nation’s over 18,000 deaths, with other hot spots in places such as Detroit, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

“Once it gets into the city, there are so many commuters and travel, it gets everywhere,” said Matt Mazewski, a Columbia University economics student who tried to get away from the epicenter by leaving his apartment near the New York City campus for his parents’ house in Long Valley, New Jersey.

Worldwide, the number of deaths hit another sad milestone, as tallied by Johns Hopkins University, while confirmed infections reached about 1.7 million.

The U.S. 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.

In places such as New York, Italy and Spain, for example, many victims who died outside a hospital — say, in a house or a nursing home — have not been included in the count.

With Christians around the world heading into Easter weekend, public health officials and religious leaders alike urged people to stay home, warning that violating lockdowns and social distancing rules could cause the virus to come storming back. Authorities in Europe put up roadblocks, used helicopters and drones, and cited drivers who had no good reason to be out.

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