U.S. leads world in confirmed coronavirus cases

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NEW YORK — The United States now leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, the Associated Press reports.

According to a running count by Johns Hopkins University, the number of people infected in the U.S. topped 82,000 on Thursday. That’s just ahead of the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy.

Italy has the most confirmed deaths of any country with more than 8,000. More than 1,000 people have died in the U.S.

In Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump said he will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship that will relieve the pressure on New York hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients. Trump said he told New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the ship will arrive in New York Harbor on Monday.

Trump also said in a White House press conference that he’ll “kiss it goodbye” and that the ship is “loaded up to the top” with medical supplies.

The announcement of the USNS Comfort’s planned deployment comes as New York City-area hospitals are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of overrunning emergency rooms.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York had climbed to 3,800 this week, including close to 900 in intensive care, with the peak of the outbreak weeks away.

The critical question remains whether the severe “social distancing” restrictions recently enacted by New York will help the state avoid a worst-case scenario of overwhelmed hospitals.

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