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US COVID-19 Cases Top 1 Million

A public safety officer stands behind the gates of a temporarily closed park at a viewing point for a flyover of the New York City skyline by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in Weehawken, New Jersey, April 28, 2020.

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases in the United States topped the 1 million mark Tuesday even as several states began taking small steps to reopen for business.

According to the count by Johns Hopkins University, 1 million is by far the largest for any country in the world, where the global number of cases exceeds 3 million.

More than 57,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. According to a count by the Reuters news agency, the coronavirus killed about 2,000 Americans a day throughout April.

Some U.S. health officials say they believe the actual number of U.S. cases may be higher than reported because of a lack of testing and reporting.

Warnings to states

Those officials are also warning state governors not to be too hasty to allow businesses to reopen, saying any premature easing of lockdowns and social distancing could lead to a surge in new cases.

There are reports of a rise in the number of new cases in states that have started to ease restrictions, including Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee and Texas.

The White House has been inconsistent on recommending whether states can start lifting stay-at-home orders.

President Donald Trump has said it is time to get the U.S. economy moving again. He has thrown support behind protesters who have filled the streets of many state capitals demanding stores and other business reopen.

'Wake-up call'

Also Tuesday, the International Rescue Committee warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in countries at war – including Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen – could exceed 1 billion.

FILE - David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, in Beirut, Lebanon, March 6, 2017.
FILE - David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, in Beirut, Lebanon, March 6, 2017.

“These numbers should serve as a wake-up call,” said IRC President David Miliband. “The full, devastating and disproportionate weight of this pandemic has yet to be felt in the world’s most fragile and war-torn countries.”

Miliband, a former British Foreign Secretary, said 34 nations are at extreme risk because of the double crises of coronavirus and war.

But he said there is still time to “mount a robust preventative response … prevent a further perpetuation of this epidemic globally.” Miliband appealed for “urgent funding for frontline responses.”

He also accuses the G-20 group of the world’s richest nations and European Union of “slumbering” in their global response to the coronavirus and also strongly criticized Trump for suspending U.S. funding for the World Health Organization over its early reaction to the pandemic.

Olympics 'difficult'

Also Tuesday, the head of the Japan Medical Association said he does not see how Japan can hold the Olympics next year if no coronavirus vaccine is ready.

"I am not saying that Japan should or shouldn't host the Olympics, but that it would be difficult to do so," said Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura. "Unless an effective vaccine is developed, I expect hosting the Olympics will be difficult."

The July summer games have been put off one year.

A number of countries are working on a COVID-19 vaccine and some are in the testing stage.

But the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said an effective vaccine may not be ready for at least a year.