The U.S. on Saturday reported that deaths due to covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, had reached more than 20,000. This means that the U.S. has surpassed Italy as the country with most deaths associated with the outbreak in the world. America is also the global leader in confirmed cases with 514,415, or more than triple the number of cases in Spain, which has 161,852 at the number two spot.
The grim milestone in deaths was reported by Reuters, which used an internal tally. The news comes a day after President Donald Trump announced that he would have to make a decision on when to resume normal operations in the country. The majority of U.S. states have placed their populations under some type of lockdown to restrict gathering and social contact.
“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,” Trump said at a news briefing on Friday. “I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
Speaking about how he would make the decision, Trump said he would surround himself with “the greatest minds” from various different parts of society. The president added that he wanted to open the country as soon as possible. When asked what metrics he would use to make the decision, Trump pointed to his forehead.
“The metrics right here, that’s my metrics,” he said.
In March, Trump said he had wanted to reopen the country by Easter and spoke of “packed churches.” However, he later backed away from his statements and extended federal guidelines on coronavirus to April 30.
Currently, the U.S. federal guidelines recommend that individuals work from home whenever possible, avoid discretionary travel and shopping trips, stay home when sick, keep away from bars, restaurants and food courts and avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
Per the New York Times, most of the restrictions on keeping Americans at home were issued by state governors, not the president. That means that the decision to reopen the country is not entirely up to Trump, although the Times notes that if he were to issue guidelines to reopen the country, many states would probably follow or feel pressure from constituents or businesses to ease restrictions.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Saturday there were 1.7 million confirmed covid-19 cases worldwide.