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Coronavirus deaths hit 1,000 in U.S. as global death toll passes 20,000

Deaths continued to rise in New York, which has been called the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., and in states all over the country.
Image: A police officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing center in Hansen Dam Park on March 25, 2020 in Pacoima, California.
A police officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus testing center in Pacoima, California.Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

The United States has reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country on Thursday, according to a count by NBC News.

The number of reported deaths associated with the disease in the U.S. was at least 1,001 as of Thursday morning, according to that count, and there have been more than 68,000 reported cases. Globally, reported deaths passed 21,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The university puts the U.S. death toll even higher than the NBC News count, listing 1,050 as of around 2:30 a.m. ET.

Deaths continued to rise in New York, which has been called the epicenter of the epidemic on the U.S. There have been at least 334 deaths linked to the illness caused by the novel coronavirus as of early Thursday.

"We still have the trajectory going up. We have not turned the trajectory, nor have we hit the apex," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing Wednesday.

The governor added that there seemed to be some early evidence that New York's "density control plan" could be helping to slow hospitalization rate projections but he appeared to treat the signs with caution at this stage.

As of Wednesday evening, there had been more than 32,700 cases in the state, and more than 20,000 of those have been reported in New York City, according to the city's health department. There have been 132 deaths in Washington state, health authorities say.

NBC News' count includes active cases, those who have recovered, those who have died, those who have been repatriated to the U.S. from other countries, and cases in U.S. territories.

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The Senate Wednesday night approved a historic $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill that includes direct payments to Americans, boosted unemployment insurance and other measures to help those who have lost jobs and to try and ease the economic fallout of the crisis. The House is expected to vote on Friday.

State and local governments around the country have issued stay-at-home orders or requests, in some cases ordering non-essential businesses to close, as a way to slow the spread of the virus and prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.

Major sports have been canceled or put on hiatus, gambling was ordered shut down in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada, and in places with stay-at-home orders bars and restaurants were ordered closed or restricted to take out and delivery.

In Los Angeles, which along with California has ordered non-essential businesses to close in order to slow the spread of the virus, the mayor warned "we have not seen the darkest days."

"Folks who think that we're going to be done in a couple of weeks, it's simply not that case anywhere," Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference Wednesday.

Image: Mortuary employees wearing face masks wheel a coffin into the crematorium of La Almudena cemetery in Madrid
Mortuary employees wearing face masks wheel a coffin into the crematorium of La Almudena cemetery in Madrid on Tuesday during the funeral for a coronavirus victim.Oscar Del Pozo / AFP - Getty Images

Around the world, countries are enforcing stricter lockdown measures to prevent people from gathering or travelling.

India, a country of 1.3 billion, entered its second day on lockdown Thursday. While normally bustling city and town streets were quiet across the country, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 649 and at least 13 people had died.

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In Italy, the hardest-hit nation in the world, the death toll reached 7,503 Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

And Spain saw its death toll surpass China’s — the original epicenter of the virus — with at least 3,287 killed as of Wednesday night. In response, the Spanish government announced Thursday an extension of its lockdown to April 12.

Nursing homes in Spain appear to be particularly hard hit, accounting for more than 10 percent of the country's overall death toll, according to an analysis by the Spanish radio network Cadena SER.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials said new cases in the country were among people who traveled in from abroad and not the result of virus being transmitted locally. Just 67 new confirmed cases were reported Thursday, bringing total cases in the country to 81,736 since the outbreak began, while an additional 6 deaths brought the country's total toll to 3,291.

With the pandemic already threatening to deeply harm the world economy, leaders from the Group of 20 said they would meet over video link Thursday to discuss the fight against the virus and how to curb its impact.

Finance ministers and central bankers agreed they would develop an action plan to avoid a global recession, which the International Monetary Fund warned is expected, but few details have been revealed.