Hospitalisation rates and reported deaths from the novel coronavirus continued to decrease in New York state on Sunday as Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state appears to be past a plateau of coronavirus cases.
The downward trend in coronavirus hospitalisations comes as a welcome relief for New York state, the epicentre of the U.S. outbreak where nearly 14,000 people have died, including 504 people in the last 24 hours.
“If the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point, and all indications at this point are that we are on a descent,” Cuomo said during his daily news conference.
Still the death toll from the new coronavirus in the U.S. passed the 40,000 mark on Sunday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The death toll has doubled since April 11, indicating a sharp uptick even as there are emerging signs that the rate of infection has started to flatten in key areas, including New York.
The U.S. remains the hardest hit country, with nearly a quarter of all deaths reported globally.
However, methodology and capacity differ across countries, making comparisons inexact.
Cuomo warned that things in his state will not return quickly to pre-pandemic conditions.
“The beast is still alive and the beast can rise up again,” he said, cautioning against easing lockdown measures too soon.
U.S. states are now looking to see when and how they can reopen their economies while preventing a second surge in coronavirus cases.
Governors in several states are saying they worry about reopening their economies from coronavirus shutdowns if testing is still not at the level needed to ensure early identification of resurgent outbreaks.
The lack of testing is “probably the number one problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told CNN on Sunday.
Deborah Birx, a key public health official, told CBS the federal government was working to expand testing, conceding that researchers from Harvard University are estimating half a million tests a day are needed to correctly deal with the pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Fox on Sunday that capacity had reached 150,000 daily tests.
“While our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said during an interview with Meet the Press.
Whitmer, who has faced protests over her strict lockdown measures, said the federal government needs to help supply materials for administering tests like swabs and chemical reagents.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, told the same show that President Donald Trump’s efforts so far to roll out testing were a “failure.”
Last week, the White House announced a three-stage plan to get U.S. states out of shutdowns – on an individualised, gradual and phased-in basis – based on whether areas were seeing sustained declines in their infection rates.
The U.S. now has over 742,000 confirmed cases, though testing shortages persist.