Coronavirus deaths mounted with alarming speed in Spain, Italy and New York, the most lethal hot spot in the United States, while the outbreak has thrown 10 million Americans out of work in just two weeks and by Friday had sickened more than a million people.
The public health crisis deepened in New York City, where one funeral home in a hard-hit neighbourhood had 185 bodies stacked up — more than triple normal capacity. The city has seen at least 1,500 virus deaths.
“It’s surreal,” owner Pat Marmo said, adding that he’s been begging families to insist hospitals hold their dead loved ones as long as possible. “We need help.”
Worldwide the number of reported infections hit another gloomy milestone — 1 million, with more than 53,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. But the true numbers are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, many mild cases that have gone unreported and suspicions that some countries are covering up the extent of their outbreaks.
Spain on Thursday reported a record one-day number of deaths, 950, bringing its overall toll to about 10,000, despite signs that the infection rate is slowing. Italy recorded 760 more deaths, for a total of 13,900, the worst of any country, but new infections continued to level off.
France recorded a running total of about 4,500 deaths in hospitals, with 471 in the past day. But officials expect the overall toll to jump significantly because they are only now starting to count deaths in nursing homes and other facilities for older people.
France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he and his government colleagues are “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive in intensive care.
As the death toll grew, so did the economic fallout. New unemployment numbers showed the outbreak has thrown 10 million Americans out of work in just two weeks in the swiftest, most stunning collapse the U.S. job market has ever witnessed.
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Roughly 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, and many factories, restaurants, stores and other businesses are closed or have seen sales shrivel. Economists warned unemployment would almost certainly top those of the Great Recession a decade ago and could reach levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
“My anxiety is through the roof right now, not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Laura Wieder, laid off from her job managing a now-closed sports bar in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
The pandemic will cost the world economy as much as $4.1 trillion, or nearly 5% of all economic activity, the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank, said Friday.