Americans brace for 'hardest, saddest' week of their lives

  • A man wears a mask to protect himself from the coronavirus while running in front of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Sunday, April 5, 2020.

    A man wears a mask to protect himself from the coronavirus while running in front of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Sunday, April 5, 2020. Associated Press

  • A sign acknowledging the work of doctors and nurses is posted on a traffic control box outside Brooklyn Hospital Center, as a hospital worker, right, waits for a traffic light to change before reporting to duty, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in New York. The Brooklyn hospital is one of several in the area treating high numbers of coronavirus patients.

    A sign acknowledging the work of doctors and nurses is posted on a traffic control box outside Brooklyn Hospital Center, as a hospital worker, right, waits for a traffic light to change before reporting to duty, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in New York. The Brooklyn hospital is one of several in the area treating high numbers of coronavirus patients. Associated Press

  • A woman stretches as she crosses the empty Rivoli street during a nationwide confinement to counter the Covid-19, in Paris, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

    A woman stretches as she crosses the empty Rivoli street during a nationwide confinement to counter the Covid-19, in Paris, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. Associated Press

  • Wearing his personal protective equipment, emergency room nurse Brian Stephen leans against a nearby stoop as he takes a break from his work at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in New York. Located in downtown Brooklyn, the hospital is one of several in the New York area that has been treating high numbers of coronavirus patients during the current viral pandemic.

    Wearing his personal protective equipment, emergency room nurse Brian Stephen leans against a nearby stoop as he takes a break from his work at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in New York. Located in downtown Brooklyn, the hospital is one of several in the New York area that has been treating high numbers of coronavirus patients during the current viral pandemic. Associated Press

  • A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep the park open for people observing the British government's guidance of social distancing, only using parks for dog walking, one form of exercise a day, like a run, walk, or cycle alone or with members of the same household, on Primrose Hill in London, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

    A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep the park open for people observing the British government's guidance of social distancing, only using parks for dog walking, one form of exercise a day, like a run, walk, or cycle alone or with members of the same household, on Primrose Hill in London, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. Associated Press

  • In this image taken from video of the TWITTER/@BorisJohnson, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks from self isolation which he has been in since contracting coronavirus, Friday April 3, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus. Johnson's office says he is being admitted for tests because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus.  (TWITTER/@BorisJohnson via AP)

    In this image taken from video of the TWITTER/@BorisJohnson, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks from self isolation which he has been in since contracting coronavirus, Friday April 3, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus. Johnson's office says he is being admitted for tests because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus. (TWITTER/@BorisJohnson via AP) Associated Press

  • U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington.

    U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington. Associated Press

  • Masks are sold on a street corner Sunday, April 5, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday praised the state's counties for agreeing, on a case-by-case basis, to cancel property-tax penalties for homeowners, small businesses and other property owners who have a demonstrated economic hardship.

    Masks are sold on a street corner Sunday, April 5, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday praised the state's counties for agreeing, on a case-by-case basis, to cancel property-tax penalties for homeowners, small businesses and other property owners who have a demonstrated economic hardship. Associated Press

  • Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus.

    Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Associated Press

  • In this Friday, April 3, 2020, photo released by Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn, a nurse adjusts tiny face shield for a newborn baby to protect from new coronavirus at the newborn nursery of the hospital in Samutprakarn province, central Thailand. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn via AP)

    In this Friday, April 3, 2020, photo released by Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn, a nurse adjusts tiny face shield for a newborn baby to protect from new coronavirus at the newborn nursery of the hospital in Samutprakarn province, central Thailand. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn via AP) Associated Press

  • Debbie Edmonds, of Cedar Rapids, second from right, hugs Valerie Obadal, a nurse at UnityPoint St. Lukes who is caring for Edmonds' son Chad Edmonds during a tribute to hospital workers at a parking ramp on the UnityPoint St. Luke's campus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday, April 5, 2020. Chad Edmonds has been battling COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the hospital and is in an induced coma, according to his parents, who took part in the show of support. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP)

    Debbie Edmonds, of Cedar Rapids, second from right, hugs Valerie Obadal, a nurse at UnityPoint St. Lukes who is caring for Edmonds' son Chad Edmonds during a tribute to hospital workers at a parking ramp on the UnityPoint St. Luke's campus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday, April 5, 2020. Chad Edmonds has been battling COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the hospital and is in an induced coma, according to his parents, who took part in the show of support. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP) Associated Press

  • Foreign tourists arrive at the Christchurch Airport terminal as they prepare to check in for a charter flight back to Germany via Vancouver from Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, April 6, 2020. The German Embassy in Wellington last week said more than 12,000 German tourists had signed up for its repatriation program from New Zealand following the strict monthlong lockdown, which is aimed at preventing more coronavirus infections. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

    Foreign tourists arrive at the Christchurch Airport terminal as they prepare to check in for a charter flight back to Germany via Vancouver from Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, April 6, 2020. The German Embassy in Wellington last week said more than 12,000 German tourists had signed up for its repatriation program from New Zealand following the strict monthlong lockdown, which is aimed at preventing more coronavirus infections. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. Associated Press

  • Foreign tourists arrive outside the Christchurch Airport terminal as they prepare to check in for a charter flight back to Germany via Vancouver from Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, April 6, 2020. The German Embassy in Wellington last week said more than 12,000 German tourists had signed up for its repatriation program from New Zealand following the strict monthlong lockdown, which is aimed at preventing more coronavirus infections. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

    Foreign tourists arrive outside the Christchurch Airport terminal as they prepare to check in for a charter flight back to Germany via Vancouver from Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, April 6, 2020. The German Embassy in Wellington last week said more than 12,000 German tourists had signed up for its repatriation program from New Zealand following the strict monthlong lockdown, which is aimed at preventing more coronavirus infections. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/5/2020 9:29 PM

NEW YORK -- Americans braced for what the nation's top doctor warned Sunday would be 'the hardest and saddest week' of their lives while Britain assumed the unwelcome mantle of deadliest coronavirus hot spot in Europe after a record 24-hour jump in deaths that surpassed even hard-hit Italy's.

Britain's own prime minister, Boris Johnson, was hospitalized, 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19 in what his office described as a 'precautionary step.'

 

Amid the dire news, there were also glimmers of hope some hard-hit areas - the number of people dying appeared to be slowing in New York City, Spain and Italy. The news was cautiously welcomed by leaders, who also noted that any gains could easily be reversed if people did not continue to adhere to strict lockdowns.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams offered a stark warning about the expected wave of virus deaths.

'This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,'' he told 'Fox News Sunday.'

But President Donald Trump later suggested the hard weeks ahead could foretell the turning of a corner. 'We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,' Trump said at an evening White House briefing.

In New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, daily deaths dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes inserted, but New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned it was 'too early to tell' the significance of those numbers.

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Italy and Spain also got some encouraging news. Italy registered its lowest day-to-day increase in deaths in more than two weeks - 525, said Angelo Borrelli, the head of the national Civil Protection agency. The pace of infection also seemed to be slowing.

Even so, Borrelli warned, 'This good news shouldn't make us drop our guard."

Confirmed infections fell in Spain, too, and new deaths declined for the third straight day, dropping to 674 - the first time daily deaths have fallen below 800 in the past week.

The outlook, however, was bleak in Britain, which reported more than 600 deaths Sunday, surpassing Italy's increase. Italy still has, by far, the world's highest coronavirus death toll - almost 16,000.


In a rare televised address, Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to rise the occasion, while acknowledging enormous disruptions, grief and financial difficulties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,' she said. 'And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.'

Johnson, meanwhile, has been hospitalized, though his office said it was not an emergency and that the 55-year-old Conservative will undergo tests.

There are concerns that Johnson's government did not take the virus seriously enough at first and that spring weather will tempt Britons and others to break social distancing rules.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the U.K. might even ban outdoor exercise if people still ''flout the rules.''

'The vast majority of people are following the public health advice, which is absolutely critical, and staying at home," Hancock told Sky TV. "But there are a small minority of people who are still not doing that - it's quite unbelievable, frankly, to see that.'

As the numbers of infections rose, Saffron Cordery, the deputy head of Britain's National Health Service Providers, said the agency needed to focus on quickly increasing ventilator capacity and getting more protective equipment for health care workers.

Italians have not been immune to lure of the good weather, either. Top Italian officials took to national television after photos were published showing huge crowds out shopping.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told RAI state television that all the sacrifices Italians have made since the nationwide lockdown began risked being reversed.

Restrictions on movement vary from country to country, state to state, locality to locality. Swedes have been advised to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants remain open. In Germany and Britain, residents can get outdoors to exercise and walk their dogs, while in Serbia and South Africa, dog walking is not allowed.

The ACLU filed its first lawsuit over coronavirus restrictions, arguing in part that Puerto Rico's curfew leaves people fearing arrest if they help elderly relatives by letting police determine who belongs in a family. A coastal community's mayor in Georgia fears the governor's mandate to open beaches will bring crowds to the small island with older residents and no medical facility.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis blessed palms for Palm Sunday in a near-empty St. Peter's Basilica. At a New Orleans church, Rev. Emmanuel Mulenga blessed palm fronds and put them on a back table so people could get them while also observing social distancing.

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and nearly 70,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

The vast majority of infected people recover from the virus, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes. For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death.

The rapid spread of the virus in the United States has prompted a chaotic scramble for medical equipment and protective gear.

An Associated Press review of purchasing contracts showed that federal agencies largely waited until mid-March - more than two months after the first warnings of a potential pandemic - to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.

By that time, hospitals in several states were treating thousands of infected patients without adequate equipment and pleading for shipments from the national stockpile. Now that stockpile is nearly drained just as the numbers of patients requiring critical care is surging.

When asked about the issue, Trump said federal officials and the military had worked "a miracle.'

Rebekah Gee, who heads the Louisiana State University's health care services division, warned that the private and public sector have been competing with each other, leading to price increases.

Gee said one of her colleagues went on eBay to buy gowns, while equipment her department ordered from China got stalled for weeks in Hong Kong.

'Our whole country is at war with this virus,' said Gee, who once ran the state's Department of Health. 'This needs a coordinated approach, and right now that's not happening.'

Louisiana and the New Orleans area have been hard hit by the virus, and Gov. John Bel Edwards has repeatedly warned of looming equipment shortages.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he hoped the pace of new infections would plateau soon, but that the virus is unlikely to be eradicated this year.

Speaking on CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Fauci said the prospect of a resurgence is why the U.S. is working so hard to develop a vaccine and conducting clinical trials on treatments.

Scientists are still learning about the virus that was first detected in late December in Wuhan, China. In what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S., officials said Sunday that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo had tested positive.

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D'Emilio reported from Rome. Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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