The coronavirus claims 1047 victims in one day to leave 5,139 Americans dead and more than 216,000 people testing positive - as Michigan emerges as the third deadliest hotspot behind NYC and New Jersey with 337 fatalities
The US death toll from coronavirus skyrocketed in the last 24 hours, taking the number of Americans killed by the virus past 5,000.
New deaths in the US rose to 5,139 by the end of Wednesday and new infections surged to 216,553.
The US death toll is now dwarfing the number of deaths officially reported in China (3,309), where the outbreak first originated back in December.
While the death toll in Italy (13,155) and Spain (9,387) is still higher, the US eclipsed the hard-hit European nations' confirmed cases, with both Italy (110,574) and Spain (104,118) reporting only around half the number of infections.
New York state continues to bear the brunt of the US crisis, with its death toll rising to 2,219 and the state's healthcare system buckling under the demand.
The number of new cases in the state - which has often been described as the epicenter of the US pandemic - reached 7,974 and the total number of infections topped 83,712.
Michigan now has the third highest death toll in the country after reporting a spike in its figures in the last couple of days.
The state's death toll had reached 337 on Wednesday night, with more than 9,300 confirmed cases.
New Jersey is second behind New York with 355 deaths and 22,255 infections.
New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.
Boroughs outside of Manhattan have been hardest hit, according to a New York City Health Department map which breaks down the city's coronavirus cases by zip code up until March 31.
The map revealed that the city's poorer neighborhoods are being hardest hit by the pandemic, while rich New Yorkers in the likes of Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights are not being infected to the same level.
Elmhurst and Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, the South Bronx, and East New York in Brooklyn have the most cases of the areas across the city.
In Rockaway, Queens, 436 have tested positive among the community that lives in public housing in Far Rockaway but at the far end of the island, residents in their $1million Belle Harbor homes only have 143 cases.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio drafted in some support Wednesday, appointing controversial former NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill as the city's COVID-19 Senio Advisor.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, de Blasio introduced O'Neill as his 'senior advisor helping us wage this battle against coronavirus' and said the former cop would be tasked with making sure the city's hospitals and medical professionals have the supplies they need to tackle the growing pandemic.
His responsibilities will include working with City Hall and other agencies to maintain a strong chain of supplies and healthcare workers to hospitals.
De Blasio also warned New Yorkers that the 'toughest weeks are ahead' and again hammered home the date of April 5 as 'D-Day' for the city.
Sunday has been touted as the day the city will run out of essential medical supplies as it currently stands.
'April 5 is a crucial, crucial date for New York City,' he said in the press conference.
'As we prepare for a real upsurge, as I go into the specific numbers, I want to emphasize how much effort has already been expended. it's unbelievable. How many people have gathered together to provide support already. The toughest weeks are ahead.'
New York City needs 3.3million N95 masks, 2.1million surgical masks, 100,000 isolation gowns and 400 ventilators by Sunday, de Blasio said.
At least 2,500 more ventilators are needed for the healthcare system to cope with the expected surge in cases just next week.
'We have to make sure it happens in time. Those are all very, very important,' de Blasio said.
In the state of New York, the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, arrived in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals.
Field hospitals have also been set up in Central Park, the Javits Center and even in hotels like the Plaza and St Regis. The indoor tennis center that is the site of the U.S. Open tournament is being turned into a hospital as well.
Makeshift morgues have been put in place at various hospitals across the city as the death toll continues to rise and healthcare workers struggle to keep up with the body count.
Connecticut confirmed the youngest known victim of the killer virus worldwide Wednesday, after a six-week-old baby died from coronavirus.
The infant was taken to the hospital unresponsive last week and could not be revived.
Their death was announced on Wednesday by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, saying he believes the infant is the youngest fatality 'anywhere'.
'It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID-19.
'A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived.
'Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive,' Lamont announced.
President Donald Trump has warned Americans to brace for a 'hell of a bad two weeks' ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Trump called it 'a matter of life and death' for Americans to heed his administration's guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a 'light at the end of the tunnel'.
'I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,' Trump said Tuesday. 'This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we've ever had in our country... We're going to lose thousands of people.'
The jaw-dropping projections were laid out as officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. The model's high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World War II.
Dr Tony Fauci, the country's leading virus expert, called the numbers 'sobering' and urged Americans to 'step on the accelerator' with their collective mitigation efforts.
Trump's comments came after he announced on Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that advise Americans to cease large gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.
It was an abrupt reversal for Trump who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans 'pack the pews' for Easter Sunday services.
The latest data on the cases and deaths comes from John Hopkins University.
The tally records that 3,309 people have died from the virus in China.
However, experts and politicians have cast doubt on the numbers coming out of China, and have even accused the country of lying and covering up key information during virtually every stage of its coronavirus response.
Beijing initially tried to cover up the virus by punishing medics who discovered it, denying it could spread person-to-person and delaying a lock-down of affected regions - meaning early opportunities to control the spread were lost.
Then, once the virus began spreading, the Communist Party began censoring public information about it and spread disinformation overseas - including suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.
Even now, prominent politicians have warned that infection and death totals being reported by the regime are likely to be wrong - with locals in the epicenter of Wuhan suggesting the true tolls could be ten times higher.
Chinese health officials admitted Tuesday that more than 1,500 cases of the virus involving asymptomatic people that had not been previously reported.
Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 40,000 have died, according to the tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Virus expert says all 50 states need to be on lock-down at the same time otherwise the coronavirus curve won't flatten and predicts social distancing will continue for another 10 weeks - as Bill Gates warns failing to shut down is a 'recipe for disaster'
It comes as a virus expert said that all 50 states in the United States need to be on lock-down at the same time to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said the entire country needs to better follow social distancing guidelines and implement lock-downs after the US government's stark projection that there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
Public health officials have stressed that the death toll number could be less if people across the country adhere to strict social distancing.
In an interview with NBC's Today on Wednesday, Dr Fair said insisting on social distancing was a 'moot point' unless the entire country was on a lock-down.
'Until all 50 states do it, and they all do it at the same time, it's really kind of a moot point,' he said.
Dr Fair said the government's latest projections were 'best case scenarios' if everyone was doing the same thing to help stop the spread of the virus.
'That's only going to happen if all 50 states are doing the same thing,' he said. 'That's why I'd really urge the Association of Governors to get together - everybody get on the same page as far as what they're going to do and everybody implement the same measures.'
He said that if all states initiated a stay-at-home order, social distancing would need to continue for as many as 10 weeks.
'Realistically, I think it is going to have to go on for 6 to even 10 weeks. That's if everyone starts today,' Dr Fair said.
'If everyone is not doing it there are still going to be people spreading it. There are things we're going to have to do - we have to go to the grocery store, we have to go to the pharmacy. There are people working in hospitals. But we can all do our own part and everyone has to do it. I think the police need to get involved in it just as far as implementing strict distancing measures.'
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who in 2015 predicted the world would soon face a pandemic, said failing to enforce a country-wide lockdown was a 'recipe for disaster'.
In a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, Gates said the US had already 'missed the opportunity to get ahead' but said it wasn't too late for people to start mitigating.
Like Dr Fair, Gates said the US needs a 'consistent nationwide approach to shutting down' in order to stop the spread.
'Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven't shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country's leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,' Gates said.
He said no one should be continuing as usual or relax during the shutdown, estimating it could take 10 weeks for infection and death rates to start decreasing.
'The choices we and our leaders make now will have an enormous impact on how soon case numbers start to go down, how long the economy remains shut down and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one,' he wrote.
Currently, about 265 million Americans are now on stay at home orders to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Some states, however, are still refusing to order lock-downs with the governor of Missouri insisting it is down to 'individual responsibility'. Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming also currently have no lock-down measures at a county or municipal level.
More than 80 percent of the US population are in lock-down after governors from Arizona and Tennessee joined other states in issuing stay-at-home orders effective Tuesday - the same day that the US death toll eclipsed China.
As of Tuesday, 32 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico were all in lock-down, with residents told to stay home except for essential workers or to go out for essential needs such as buying groceries or seeking medical attention.
The states with stay-at-home orders are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina – as well as the territory of Guam – do not have stay-at-home orders but have shuttered all non-essential businesses.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seemed to finally bow to pressure Monday and signed an executive order that all residents must remain in their homes from March 31 until at least April 30.
But several states are yet to take such action, which experts have warned is crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic.
Surgeon General says 30 days of lock-down will be long enough to stop coronavirus in some states but not everywhere as he warns the public to leave precious N-95 masks for healthcare workers
The US Surgeon General said on Wednesday that 30 days of social distancing would be long enough to slow the spread of coronavirus in some places but not everywhere.
In an interview on Good Morning America, Surgeon General Jerome Adams also warned the public not to use precious N-95 surgical masks in light of an update by the CDC that it is considering advising that everyone should wear a face covering when they go out.
'The original 15 days was designed to slow the spread and for us to have some time to reassess.
'We learned good and bad things. No state has been spared, but when you look at places like Washington and California that aggressively mitigated with social distancing, they were able to flatten their curve.
'We're looking at it as an opportunity for the entire country to say, if we do these things, we can flatten the curve.'
Asked if 30 days would be long enough, he replied: 'It will be for some places. It won't be for others, depending on where they are on their curve.'
The CDC had originally said that only people who have symptoms should wear the masks when they go out. Now, the government is weighing advising that everyone wears one, even if they don't have symptoms, to avoid spreading the deadly virus.
Dr Adams, however, says it does not mean the public should rush to buy the coveted N-95 surgical grade masks that are in short supply around the nation's hospitals.
'Those must be reserved for the healthcare workers and the public can use other items to cover their faces. We've learned about this disease. We've learned there's a fair amount of asymptomatic spread and whether or not people wear masks will prevent transmission to other people,' he said.
'But it can't be at the expense of social distancing. The most important thing for people to do is to stay at home. The final point I'd make is if you're going to wear a face covering, you still don't need an N-95 mask and if you take one, you may be taking it out of the hands of a healthcare worker who desperately needs it to treat patients.'
President Trump has now suggested people should wear scarves to cover their faces when they go out.
'You could get a mask, but most people have scarves and scarves are very good and they can use a scarf and we're only talking about a limited period of time,' he said on Tuesday.