he U.S. neared 200,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, as infections in New York continued to climb and the list of statewide stay-at-home orders expanded to Pennsylvania and Florida, leaving a dwindling number of states without such measures.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he is issuing a statewide order Wednesday limiting movement outside the home only to essential services. Until now, he had deferred to individual cities and counties to implement stay-at-home orders, focusing on the hardest-hit areas and yielding a patchwork of policies across the state.
Mr. DeSantis faced intense pressure by health officials and elected leaders to impose a statewide ban. Florida was alone among states with large numbers of infections in not doing so. He said he reached the decision after consulting with President Trump’s coronavirus task force.
“At this point, I think even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now,” Mr. DeSantis said. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a similar order.
Mr. Trump said Tuesday the U.S. could suffer nearly a quarter of a million deaths from the pandemic over time, underscoring the grim progress of the pandemic, which saw its biggest-ever jump in newly confirmed cases on Tuesday. More than 75,000 new cases were reported Tuesday, primarily from the U.S., Germany, Spain and France, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The global tally of confirmed cases passed 877,000 Wednesday, and if the current pace continues that number could top one million by the end of the week.
The U.S. has more confirmed cases than any other country, with more than 189,000 infections. The death toll, now greater than China’s reported total, passed 4,000. That is still far less than Italy, where fatalities rose to 12,428 Tuesday, or Spain, which has reported 9,053 deaths from the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus.
New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has over 76,000 confirmed cases and 1,941 deaths, with New York City accounting for over 1,000 deaths.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the apex for coronavirus cases is expected at the end of April and the state will need 110,000 hospital beds and 37,000 ventilators. He also said that he will order all New York City playgrounds closed.
“I’ve said this 100 different ways, but compliance is still not where it should be. So, we’re going to take more dramatic actions,” Mr. Cuomo said, announcing the playground shutdown.
Patients from the New York City area began arriving at Albany Medical Center Hospital late Tuesday night as the state tries to better manage the strain put on hospitals in the hard-hit city.
Doctors in West Virginia, a state home to an older population with higher rates of chronic illness than most others, are preparing for a surge of new infections. Health-care workers in states with large rural populations expect the strain on hospitals could be as severe as it has become in New York, even with fewer patients. In Washington state, site of an early outbreak of the disease, a bankruptcy judge approved an emergency deal to reopen a closed hospital, as authorities seek to keep up with demand.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday that it would keep thousands of inmates at facilities nationwide locked in their cells with limited exceptions for the next 14 days as officials try to stem the spread of the coronavirus after one prisoner died and more prisoners and staff tested positive for the disease.