U.S. Braces for Most Challenging Days Ahead in Pandemic

Men wearing protective gear moved a wooden casket Sunday from a hearse at a funeral home in the neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn, in New York City.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Health officials warned Americans to brace for a pivotal week in the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of new cases around the world jumped by more than 100,000 in a single day for the first time, with a third of them coming from the U.S.

Some of the hardest-hit cities, including New York, Detroit and New Orleans, are expected to see infections peak in the coming days, new models suggested.

The next week will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday, drawing comparisons with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

More than 1.2 million people have been infected around the globe as of Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., more than 9,400 people have died from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

In the U.K., British Prime Minister Boris Johnsonwas hospitalized Sunday after suffering persistent symptoms of Covid-19 10 days after he tested positive for the virus, his office said. It said his admission to hospital, under his doctor’s advice, was a precautionary step.

President Trump offered his “well wishes” to Mr. Johnson on Sunday, saying at a White House briefing Sunday evening that “all Americans are praying for him.”

At the same briefing, Mr. Trump said the federal government would send 600,000 N95 masks to New York City and 200,000 to Suffolk County, east of New York. He said additional ventilators would be sent to New Jersey, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois and Massachusetts.

Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at the briefing Sunday that the White House had received a new model from an independent modeler and it projected “close to that 100,000 number” of U.S. coronavirus deaths.

Officials again urged Americans to stay home. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” Dr. Birx said at an earlier White House briefing over the weekend.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, here on April 3, said on Fox News that the next week would be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press

She said officials were closely monitoring an uptick in cases in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C., and are hopeful that social distancing in those places could prevent them from seeing the same level of spread as the known hot spots.

New York, and to a lesser degree New Jersey, remained the two states with the most confirmed cases, accounting for nearly half the country’s cases and deaths. Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday the state’s coronavirus death count now eclipses the death toll from 9/11 by more than 100.

In New York, the number of deaths a day dropped for the first time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday, but he added it was too early to understand the significance of those numbers.

The state still saw a rise of 594 deaths on Saturday, he said. As of Sunday afternoon, New York had more than 122,000 cases and more than 4,100 deaths.

The state has been struggling to amass enough ventilators, one of the most in-demand hospital items in the fight against the virus. Mr. Cuomo has asked that New York be considered a priority when federal equipment is deployed, saying that as cases drop in the region, the equipment would then be sent to other states as their caseload grew.

President Trump warned on Saturday that the coming days will be some of the worst for the coronavirus outbreak. Modeling shows New York, Detroit and New Orleans will hit the peak of their outbreaks in the next week. Photo: Bryan Smith/Zuma Press

“Everyone says federal stockpile, federal stockpile. There’s not enough in the federal stockpile to take care of New York, and Illinois, and Texas, and Florida, and California,” said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.

The Chinese government helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators, as well as a large supply of masks, that arrived in New York City on Saturday. And New York was expecting a shipment of 140 ventilators from Oregon.

“New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help,” Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a tweet, explaining that her state was in a better position now.

In Washington state, an early hot spot of the pandemic in the U.S., Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said he would return more than 400 ventilators from the national stockpile so they could instead go to New York and other hard-hit states. Washington has purchased more than 750 ventilators, set to arrive in the coming weeks.

Michigan ranks third among states in coronavirus cases, with more than 14,000 and 540 resulting deaths. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has feuded with the president over the federal government’s response, said on Fox News that a national strategy would work better than the patchwork of guidelines from governors across the country.

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As it is, she said, “Covid-19 will go on longer and more people will get sick and, sadly more lives may get lost,” she said Sunday.

Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS News on Sunday that if Americans follow orders, the number of new cases will start to stabilize. The number of deaths, however, will continue to grow because fatalities are a lagging indicator, he said.

“This next week is going to look bad because we are still not at that apex,” Dr. Fauci said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all people wear face coverings in public, especially in hot spots with high transmission rates. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued an order urging troops, their families, civilians and contractors to wear a mask any time they are on military property.

Medical staff carrying a coronavirus patient in Bordeaux, France.

Photo: Moritz Thibaud/Abaca Press/Zuma Press

Deaths globally topped 65,000, according to Johns Hopkins. The virus is now in 181 countries and territories around the world.

Strict containment measures appeared to be helping to contain the spread in Europe’s worst-hit countries, Italy and Spain. The rate of infection has slowed down, with the number of confirmed cases increasing less than 5% from the previous day in both countries. They are now recording fewer daily deaths than they have in over a week.

The pressure on hospitals in Italy is beginning to ease, with the number of patients in intensive care decreasing for the first time since the outbreak started, according to data released Saturday evening.

French health authorities reported on Sunday 357 new deaths from the coronavirus in the country’s hospitals—less than the 441 reported on Saturday—for a total toll of 5,889 since March 1. Authorities said the epidemic may be nearing a peak in the Paris area and eastern France.

In a measure of how the pandemic has disrupted life, the French Education Ministry canceled the country’s high-school graduation exam created under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808—which was held even during World War II.

Iran, where the outbreak still isn’t under control, stood out as it announced a loosening of restrictions. President Hassan Rouhani said low-risk economic activities would resume April 11, in a sign of the government’s efforts to balance public-health concerns with a sanctions-battered economy in serious recession.

Tehran’s coronavirus-management chief, Alireza Zali, on Saturday said the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients had increased by 30% in two days in the capital.

China, where the new disease first surfaced late last year, reported 30 new cases Saturday, mostly among arrivals from abroad. The National Health Commission said on its website that the five new cases that arose locally were all in Guangdong, the southern province that is a cornerstone of the country’s manufacturing capacity.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike stepped up her call for people to avoid public places, as Japan reported 336 new cases nationwide on Saturday, its biggest daily total yet. Tokyo added 143 cases on Sunday, another daily high for the capital.

“There is one key to preventing the spread of infections—your behavior,” Ms. Koike said. ”I beg you to refrain from going outside.”

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Write to Talal Ansari at Talal.Ansari@wsj.com, Dave Michaels at dave.michaels@wsj.com and Jennifer Calfas at Jennifer.Calfas@wsj.com

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