US hits one million COVID-19 cases as states take on testing

April 29, 2020

The US case count for COVID-19 topped one million cases today, meaning the country has accounts for a third of all reported cases of the novel coronavirus in the world.

In total, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University shows 1,012,583 cases, including 58,355 fatalities. 3,130,191 Global cases,

The milestone comes a day after the world surpassed three million cases in the four months since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China. Less than one month ago—on Apr 2—the global total hit one million cases.

In New York, 295,106 cases have been identified, including 17,638 deaths. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he will be reopening the state beginning May 15 in regional phases, allowing areas with low case prevalence to open before areas around hard-hit New York City. A region will only consider reopening after 14 days of declining cases, and businesses will be allowed to open if they are able to maintain social distancing.

New Jersey is the second hardest-hit state in the nation, and announced 402 new fatalities today, bringing state total to 113,856 cases and 6,442 deaths.

Elsewhere across the country, governors continued to talk about initial reopening of economies. To do so, public health experts, politicians, and economists have all called for widespread testing.

Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in a press briefing on Tuesday said they would be supplying states with a blueprint for increasing testing, and said by the end of May eight million Americans will be tested for COVID-19. But the blueprint only offers states guidance on how to ramp up testing, and Trump said the federal government should be the "supplier of last resort." The testing guidance says the federal government will send states enough testing materials to test 2% of the population.

Trump also announced another public-private partnership with major retailers, such as Target and Walmart, who would host testing sites. Such a plan was first proposed by the White House in early March but was never realized.

Carson, California, became the first city in the country to offer free COVID-19 testing to all residents, whether they are symptomatic or not. The testing will mostly occur through drive-thru sites.

Bloomberg News reports Trump will evoke the Defense Protection Act (DPA) to keep all meat processing plants open, in an effort to limit food-supply chain issues that have occurred as several plants in the nation's heartland have suffered major COVID-19 outbreaks.

Under the DPA, Trump will consider the plants part of the country's critical infrastructure. He is believed to be making this decision after Tyson Food's CEO, John Tyson, warned over the weekend that plants' liabilities were putting the US food-supply chain at risk. The Associated Press estimates that COVID-19 outbreaks have shuttered 25% of meat processing plants in the country within the last two weeks. Trump announced his plan to sign an order that would waive liability for meat processing plants during a White House meeting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, CNN reported.

Second only to testing, health experts have said it's critical the US expand the number of contact tracers in states in order to reopen the economy. Contact tracers, commonly employed in tuberculosis, measles, and Ebola outbreaks, work with public health departments to locate case contacts and provide surveillance on disease spread.

According to National Public Radio, an investigation into 41 states showed a total of 7,324 workers capable of doing contact tracing, with plans to increase that number to 35,582 in the coming weeks. Experts have said 100,000 should be the initial national goal. Only North Dakota currently has enough contact tracers to meet state demand.

CIDRAP has the report.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.