Confirmed coronavirus cases in the US have topped 337,000, as the country continues to lead the world in new infections. And things will only get worse from here: The US surgeon general warned on Sunday that this week could be America’s most difficult yet as it battles the outbreak.
While the US braces for the potential peak of its crisis, the rest of the world remains unspared. In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II gave an address to the nation saying the country would overcome the crisis, just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to the hospital Sunday night for tests because of his persistent coronavirus symptoms. And Japan’s government is expected to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas, in an attempt to mitigate the outbreak in major cities.
Here’s what you need to know today.
“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment”
Huge swaths of America are under lockdown. Cities like New York, New Orleans, and Detroit are seeing startling death tolls, and hospitals are overwhelmed. And across America, it is expected to get worse.
“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday. “Only it’s not going to be localized, it’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
It’s a sobering warning, as America has already registered more than 337,000 cases, and nearly 10,000 deaths, as of April 6. On Sunday, New York City recorded nearly 600 deaths, a slight dip from Saturday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease doctor, echoed those warnings on the Sunday shows this week. “On the one hand, things are going to get bad, and we need to be prepared for that,” Fauci said. “It is going to be shocking to some. It certainly is really disturbing to see that. But that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around.”
As Fauci said, this was expected. The social distancing recommendations and the statewide lockdowns in most (but not all) states are intended to “flatten the curve” to avoid overwhelming hospitals, but a peak in cases is still expected. Meanwhile, questions remain about the availability of personal protective equipment, hospital beds, and ventilators.
The worst is coming, but it’s unclear whether the country is prepared for it.
Boris Johnson is hospitalized, but he’s still working
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly announced his coronavirus diagnosis on March 27, though he said he would continue to lead the country through this national emergency from self-isolation. But on Sunday, Johnson, 55, was admitted to the hospital because of his continuing coronavirus symptoms, including a high fever.
The prime minister is in a London hospital for observation, but he’s still getting briefings from his hospital bed, a spokesperson said. Johnson tweeted that he is in “good spirits.” (A spokesperson also refuted Russian media reports that Johnson was on a ventilator.)
Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms. I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 6, 2020
Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, has been tapped to stand in if Johnson can no longer complete his duties. On Saturday, the opposition Labour Party selected a new leader, Keir Starmer, who wished Johnson a “speedy recovery.”
The news of Johnson’s condition came shortly after Queen Elizabeth broadcast a rare message to the country to address the coronavirus crisis. “Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” she said.
The United Kingdom has been on lockdown since March 23, and now has more than 48,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and more than 4,900 deaths, as of April 6.
Japan to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is expected to declare a state of emergency that will cover Tokyo, Osaka, and other areas where coronavirus infections are rising. The orders, which are expected tomorrow, will urge people to stay home except to shop for essential goods, go to work, or exercise. The order will last until May 6.
Japan has thus far avoided mass shutdowns, except for closing schools, and it had not seen a coronavirus surge like other countries. But the uptick in cases in recent days — Tokyo had its biggest single-day increase in cases, at 143, on Sunday — has raised some questions as to whether Japan’s government was being forthright about the number of coronavirus cases, especially given that Japan and the International Olympic Committee had planned to go ahead with the Olympics until late last month. Japan is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus because of its aging population.
Abe is also planning to introduce a massive stimulus package, potentially more than $900 billion, to try to offset any pain to the economy because of the new emergency measures. Japan’s economy was already struggling before this coronavirus crisis, and Abe described this aid package as “unprecedented,” far exceeding the stimulus money spent to cope with the 2008 financial crisis.
And some good news
There have been so, so many trend pieces on dating in the time of quarantine, but whatever romance you think might be blossoming over FaceTime is nothing compared to the passion finally blooming between Ying Ying and Le Le, two giant pandas in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park.
For the first time in their 10-year relationship, the two pandas mated naturally on Monday. According to the South China Morning Post, “After repeated failures ... the black-and-white heartthrobs made it at the age of 14 during the ongoing mating season between March and May,” the park said.
Any signs of a quarantine cub won’t appear until about June, but we’re rooting for these two crazy kids — and, you know, the species.