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AFP
April 6, 2020

US girds for ‘Pearl Harbour moment’

World

AFP
April 6, 2020

US governors on Sunday appealed to the White House for a national strategy against the fast-spreading coronavirus, as deaths surged and health authorities warned the coming week could resemble a "Pearl Harbour moment."

The US death toll was creeping toward the grim milestone of 10,000 as the pandemic´s epicenter in New York racked up hundreds of lives lost a day and hospitals girded for an influx of new infected patients.

Anthony Fauci, the senior American scientist battling the pandemic stateside, warned of a looming "escalation," saying Americans should prepare for "a bad week." "I will not say we have it under control," Fauci told CBS on Sunday. "That would be a false statement."

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams sounded an even more dire warning. "This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans´ lives, quite frankly," he told Fox News.

"This is going to be our Pearl Harbour moment, our 9-11 moment, only it´s not going to be localised." Adams said Americans should continue to practice social distancing and stay home for at least 30 days.

Most of the nation is under shelter-in-place orders, but nine states have yet to issue such regulations, while the federal government has declined to mandate anything on a national level. Adams noted that the nine states without orders were those producing much of the US food supply.

Still, he pleaded with state leaders to urge residents to stay home for at least the next seven to 10 days: "There is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part." The coronavirus death toll in hardest-hit New York state rose to 4,159, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, up from 3,565 a day prior.

It was the first time the day-over-day toll had dropped -- on Saturday it hit a record 630 deaths in 24 hours -- but Cuomo told journalists it was too early to tell whether that was a "blip." New York´s peak could arrive over the next week, he said, though he cautioned it was unclear if the apex would be a point, followed quickly by a decline, or a lingering plateau.