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The United States’ coronavirus-related death toll passed 50,000 Friday morning, after more than 3,000 people died Thursday.
A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University put the death toll at 50,031, with more than 869,000 cases across the country. The country with the next highest death toll is Italy, with more than 25,000.
After the death toll dipped on 4/20, it has crept back up, with Thursday’s total the third-highest since the pandemic hit U.S. shores.
The U.S. is the hardest-hit country in the world, but on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence indicated he was hopeful the pandemic would begin to recede as summer approaches, telling Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera that it could “largely” be “behind us” by Memorial Day Weekend.
“If you look at the trends today, I think by Memorial Day Weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us,” said Pence, who is the chairman of the White House coronavirus task force. “State and local officials will begin to reopen activities, you’re going to see states ahead here begin to do that.”
Some states are making quick moves to get businesses up and running as quickly as possible. On Friday, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will reopen some businesses in the state, including gyms, barbershops and nail salons – despite criticism from President Trump and lawmakers across the country.
There is mounting anger that other states have imposed lockdown measures perceived as too stringent.
People line up at Gotham Health East New York, a COVID-19 testing center April 23, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
The Michigan Legislature has scheduled a special session for Friday with the goal of creating an oversight committee to review Whitmer’s coronavirus orders and possibly strip her of some of her powers, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Critics have accused Whitmer, a 48-year-old first-term Democratic governor, of overstepping her authority with a series of measures intended to stem the spread of coronavirus in the state. April 9 revisions to her initial stay-at-home order included bans on visiting friends and relatives or traveling to vacation homes, and halts on sales of items such as furniture and gardening supplies.
Meanwhile Thursday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $484 billion relief package to rescue small businesses, help hospitals and to expand testing, sending the fourth bipartisan coronavirus bill to President Trump‘s desk.
The legislation will deliver a $310 billion infusion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan program that ran out money last week amid skyrocketing demand from hurting small businesses. The Senate passed the legislation on Tuesday by voice vote.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Marissa Schultz and Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.