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New York’s battle with coronavirus continues, Boris Johnson remains in ICU: Tuesday’s coronavirus news

Here’s what you need to to know today.

A worker delivers toilet paper and tissues to the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center on April 7, 2020, in Brooklyn, New York.
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

In New York, officials were cautiously hopeful that the coronavirus outbreak there might be beginning to stabilize. For two days in a row, the death toll has stayed below 600. That changed Tuesday, however, with the death toll reaching a record-high 731. Still, there was a sliver of some good news, as hospitalizations may be stabilizing.

Still, it is a reminder that the United States is braced for a challenging week. The number of confirmed cases in the country now exceeds 369,000 as of April 7, with a death toll around 11,000.

Health care workers are on the front lines of the crisis in the US, but so too are the grocery store and pharmacy workers who are the lifelines for people to buy food, medicine, and other vital goods. And now, they too are starting to succumb to Covid-19. According to the Washington Post, at least four workers in retail stores have died from the coronavirus across the country.

The United Kingdom is on edge as the coronavirus crisis has reached the highest levels of government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in an intensive care unit battling coronavirus symptoms, as the UK tries to bring its outbreak under control.

Here’s what you need to know today.

Another look at America’s epicenter

White House officials have said the country must prepare for a very difficult week. But there are some signs of hope that social distancing measures are helping to “flatten the curve” in places that have been at the center of the outbreak, like New York City and the surrounding areas. But the city isn’t out of the worst of it yet.

For two days in a row, deaths in New York have stayed below 600. Then, on Tuesday, the number of deaths in the last 24 hours reached 731.

Hospitalization rates in New York are also beginning to stabilize, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he believed New York might be reaching a plateau in hospitalization rates. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said Tuesday that the number of patients being placed on ventilators in recent days has improved.

It’s really too soon to know for sure if this is a blip or a real sign that infections are slowing. Either way, the message from officials is clear: Social distancing is working, and we can’t stop now. “We get reckless,” Cuomo said, “you will see these numbers go up again.”

Grocery workers are dying from Covid-19

The majority of states have asked nonessential businesses to shutter, but places that sell groceries or other essential goods remain open. And those workers — the cashiers, the greeters, the stockers, the janitors, the managers — are another workforce on the front lines of the crisis. According to the Washington Post, at least four such workers have died in recent days from the coronavirus:

A Trader Joe’s worker in Scarsdale, N.Y., a greeter at a Giant store in Largo, Md., and two Walmart employees from the same Chicago-area store have died of covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, in recent days, the companies confirmed Monday.

This may not even capture the scale of the crisis, as workers fall ill and companies rush to hire more workers to meet the spike in demand at grocery and other stores. While companies are now offering more protections to workers such as gloves and masks, employees are still putting themselves at risk. Congress is considering adding hazard pay to another coronavirus stimulus bill, which would supplement incomes for essential workers, including grocery store clerks, postal workers, and truck drivers.

The UK’s Boris Johnson is in ICU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in the intensive care unit due to his worsening coronavirus symptoms. He is receiving oxygen, but he is not on a ventilator and does not have pneumonia, a spokesperson for the prime minister said Tuesday. Johnson, the spokesperson said, was “stable.”

Dominic Raab, the UK’s foreign secretary, has been deputized to take over for Johnson where needed. Raab has been leading the daily coronavirus response meetings, but Johnson’s absence has raised concerns about the government’s management of the coronavirus emergency.

Michael Gove, another cabinet official who’s helping to coordinate the UK’s coronavirus response, also went into self-isolation on Tuesday, just as a precaution because a family member had shown symptoms, but he is continuing to work as normal. The UK’s stay-at-home orders are also set to expire this coming Monday, and the government hasn’t made an official announcement yet on whether it will extend them.

And some good news

This story is a few days old, but whatever, good news is hard to find these days. In Brooklyn, a landlord, Mario Salerno, told his tenants not to worry about April rent. He told the New York Times that meant not collecting rent from some 80 apartments, maybe 200 or 300 tenants, but his main concern was the health and safety of his tenants.

While most renters can’t rely on a generous landlord, and more needs to be done to keep people in their homes, it’s always nice calling out an act of kindness and decency during these troubled times.

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