Trump urges US to reopen, British death toll hits 32,000
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by James Pheby, with Brendan Smialowski in Phoenix, Arizona
President Donald Trump on Tuesday made his first major foray out of the White House since the coronavirus lockdown began, pushing for the US economy to reopen as Britain became the country with the second most deaths.
The growing US death toll is already more than 70,000 — by far the highest globally — while Britain’s rose to 32,000, putting it above Italy in the grim ranking of national fatalities.
Elsewhere in Europe, hard-hit Italy, Spain and France have reported a levelling off of figures, offering hope that life could slowly start returning to normal.
Financial markets hinted at some light at the end of the tunnel, with stocks and oil prices rallying Tuesday.
“We can’t keep our country closed for the next five years,” Trump said on a trip to a mask-making factory in Arizona, conceding that some people would be “badly affected.”
He urged US states to ease restrictions as he attempts to fire up the world’s biggest economy before the November presidential election, when the high death toll and millions of lost jobs could cost him dearly.
The US registered 2,333 more deaths over the 24-hours to Tuesday evening, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with some scientific models suggesting the figure will rise to 3,000 a day by June.
Countries are balancing the need to revive stalled economies against the risk of a new wave of deadly infections.
In Germany, regional leaders pushed back against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pleas for caution, with the biggest state Bavaria saying it would reopen restaurants and hotels this month.
Hong Kong announced plans to reopen schools, cinemas, bars and beauty parlours from Friday, while Californian bookshops, florists and clothing stores will also be allowed to reopen at the end of the week.
Authorities also unveiled plans to hand out reusable face masks to all 7.5 million city residents. (AFP)