AGENCIES, Washington: The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic crossed 5,116, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University late Wednesday. The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases edged toward 1 million and deaths neared 50,000 as the outbreak continued to hit the United States and Europe especially hard.
The US death toll is lower than those of Italy and Spain but above the 3,316 recorded for China, but health authorities are wary that the fatalities will go up and preparations for such eventualities are being made on a war footing.
White House experts have said that US deaths from the disease are expected to climb to between 100,000 and 240,000, even with mitigation efforts in force.
The main US disaster response agency has asked the defence department to procure 100,000 body bags as the toll mounts from the novel coronavirus, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The Pentagon said its Defense Logistics Agency was attending to the request by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The DLA “is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies,” Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said.
With the infection rate and deaths mounting — especially in New York City — President Donald Trump, who earlier had downplayed the pandemic’s impact on the US, said on Wednesday that “we’re going to have a couple of weeks, starting pretty much now, but especially a few days from now, that are going to be horrific. I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”