U.S. marks 160,000 COVID-19 deaths as relief talks fail in Washington

U.S. marks 160,000 COVID-19 deaths as relief talks fail in Washington

More than 160,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, a Reuters report showed on Friday, as President Donald Trump said he would immediately offer financial relief to Americans after failed talks with Democrats in Congress.

The grim landmark, which over the past nine days involves 10,000 deaths worldwide, comes when Americans and their elected officials remain divided on such topics when reopening classrooms, polling, closing businesses and masking orders.

“Elected leaders need to begin to address this crisis as a public health rather than a political issue,” said Dr. Melanie Thompson, an internist in Atlanta.

“Federal and state governments should subsidize access to serial rapid testing for schools and all senior living facilities. Congress needs to provide a financial safety net for the most vulnerable, including our essential workers,” Thompson said.

Trump said he would issue an executive order suspending payroll taxes for all Americans through the end of this year and extending supplemental unemployment benefits if the White House could not reach a deal on a relief package with top Democrats in Congress.

Trump, speaking at a news conference at his golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey, made the vow after negotiations between the two sides broke down on Friday.

Democrats said they agreed to reduce their $3.4 trillion proposals but Republicans would not agree to more than double their $1 trillion counter-offer.

COVID-19 infections are rising in 20 U.S. states, according to a Reuters analysis, as the center of the outbreak shifts from sunbelt states such as California, Florida, and Texas to the Midwest.

Approximately 100,000 people were expected to come down this weekend to Sturgis, South Dakota for an annual 10-day motorcycle rally, raising concerns that the popular event might touch a new wave of the disease

City officials in Anchorage, Alaska, won a court ruling on Friday in favor of a ban on indoor dining after suing an eatery in defiance of an emergency order that prohibits the practice

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has partly rolled back plans to reopen the economy of the state, reducing the maximum number permitted at outdoor meetings from 100 to 50

School reopenings remained a divisive issue nationwide. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that some 700 districts in the state could reopen classrooms, but urged them to consult with teachers, students, and parents.

“If you look at our infection rate we are probably in the best situation in the country right now,” Cuomo told reporters. “If anybody can open schools, we can open schools.”

In New York City, where 1.1 million children attend the country’s largest network of public schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said student attendance will be limited to between one and three days each week.

Chicago Public Schools, which make up the country’s third-largest school district, reversed course this week, saying students would stick with remote learning when the school year begins.

Some states, including Florida and Iowa, are mandating schools to provide at least some in-person learning, while the governors of South Carolina and Missouri have recommended all classrooms reopen.

Los Angeles, home to the nation’s second-largest school district, has said students will remain home for the start of the new term.

Texas had initially called for schools to reopen but has since allowed districts to apply for waivers as the state grapples with a rising caseload. The Houston Independent School District has said the school year will begin virtually on Sept. 8 but will shift to in-person learning on Oct. 19.