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U.S. reports more than 100 coronavirus deaths in a single day, 500 total

President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon / AP)
President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon / AP)
By Rick Noack, Brittany Shammas, Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins The Washington Post

U.S. states on Monday reported more than 100 deaths from the novel coronavirus, pushing the country’s total death toll past 500 and marking the first time single-day fatalities have risen into the triple-digits since the pandemic reached U.S. soil.

The virus has claimed lives in at least 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and has infected more than 41,000 people nationwide, according to tracking by The Washington Post.

By Monday afternoon, three dozen states had reported new deaths. New York, the state hit hardest by the outbreak, reported the most, with 43 deaths. Louisiana, where new infections are spiking, reported 14, followed by New Jersey and Michigan, which reported seven each.

The new fatalities offer a stark illustration of the outbreak’s deepening human toll at a time when President Donald Trump is considering scaling back containment efforts in hopes of preventing further economic turmoil. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the federal government would reassess social distancing guidelines at the end of the month.

Public health officials have urged the administration not to backpedal on social distancing, saying such a move would undermine work to mitigate the virus and overwhelm hospitals, which are already facing shortages of tests, masks and other essential medical supplies.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned of a worsening crisis as some people continue to disregard messages to stay home.

People choosing to visit beaches and national parks or spend time crowding around Washington’s cherry blossoms is how the virus is going to keep spreading, Adams told NBC’s “Today” show Monday.

Adams reminded the public that the numbers of coronavirus cases they see reported reflects what happened two weeks ago and stressed that mitigation measures, such as practicing social distancing and postponing elective surgeries, are designed to ignite a sense of urgency in Americans.

He noted, however, that they are only effective as early preventive tactics.

“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now,” Adams said, echoing words from the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci. “You could be spreading it to someone else, or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.”

Governors are getting far better marks for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak than Trump, according to a new Monmouth University poll. Fifty percent of Americans say Trump has done a good job handling the crisis, while 72% say governors have done a good job - results that are consistent regardless of party affiliation or severity of outbreak in a particular state. Thirty-eight percent said the American public is handling it well.

Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana and Oregon became the latest states to announce stay-at-home orders. The governors of Maryland and Massachusetts ordered nonessential businesses to close, and Virginia’s governor said schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. But Trump signaled growing weariness with “social distancing” and other aggressive steps advocated by health officials. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” the president said in a tweet written in capital letters.

Elsewhere, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all nonessential shops will close, travel will be restricted, and police will enforce social distancing if necessary. The drastic new steps to slow the spread of coronavirus included advising all people to stay at home, only to venture out to buy groceries and medicine, and to exercise once a day.

In a nighttime address to the nation, Johnson said people will only be allowed to leave their home for “very limited purposes.”

The measures bring Britain closer to the kind of full lockdowns enforced in Spain and Italy, the latter of which marked 608 coronavirus deaths Monday, bringing its total to 5,476 - more than any other country. The daily figure remains high, but it has not continued to rise. Spain extended its lockdown for another 15 days as the national death toll surged more than 25%. Spain has more than 33,000 confirmed cases, and its prime minister warned that “the worst is yet to come.”

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