WASHINGTON: The United States recorded more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the fourth straight day on Friday but a top White House advisor on the pandemic said the worst could be over in hard-hit states.
At least 1,019 fatalities due to COVID-19 were confirmed nationwide on Friday, following 1,140 on Thursday, 1,135 on Wednesday and 1,141 on Tuesday. Total cases across the United States rose by at least 68,800 on Friday to over 4 million.
The numbers have been driven in large part by a surge in infections in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and California.
“We’re already starting to see some plateauing in these critically four states that have really suffered under the last four weeks, so Texas, California, Arizona and Florida, those major metros and throughout their counties,” Dr Deborah Birx local media in an interview.
Birx’s comments came as federal health and education officials stressed the need for children to return to in-class instruction. The American public and leaders have been sharply divided over whether students should return to school for the fall term during the pandemic.
Birx said children under the age of 18 are typically less sick than older adults from the sometimes deadly illness but called it an “open question” how readily those under 10 can spread the virus.
US President Donald Trump has pushed for schools to reopen, saying that it was critical to the mental and emotional well-being of children and the ability of their parents to work.
The CDC issued a call to reopen schools in a statement posted on its website that listed the benefits of being in school and downplayed health risks, although it said exceptions should be made for virus hot spots.
The guidance does not carry the force of law and it is unclear how much weight it will carry with school districts. Most teacher’s unions which have a political influence in some states and cities have fought hard against reopenings.
The CDC posted the documents after Trump called earlier recommendations too tough, impractical and expensive. The president has been increasingly critical of health experts as the surge in cases interferes with his efforts to reopen the economy.
While the risk of severe COVID-19 is seen as relatively low for children, there is fear they could infect teachers and other employees.
Schools across the country are opening on different dates, with different modes of teaching – virtual instruction, in-person in classrooms, or a hybrid of both – and different expectations of how long each stage will last.
In-person classes in Houston, which has been hard-hit by the virus in recent weeks, have been delayed until at least 8th September, while New Jersey issued guidelines allowing parents to choose all-remote learning