Protesters in Texas ignore social distancing, oppose lockdown

Texas has become the latest US state hit by a protest largely from supporters of President Donald Trump anxious to get back to work, while the governor of New York said his coronavirus-battered state may finally be past the worst of the health crisis ther

New York, epicentre of the US epidemic, yesterday reported another 540 coronavirus-related deaths for the previous day, the lowest daily tally since 1 April. While that was down from 630 a day earlier, it still represented hundreds more families who lost a loved one to Covid-19, the highly contagious illness caused by the virus, in a single day in one state.

The number of patients requiring intensive care and ventilators to help them breathe as the virus attacks their lungs was also down in New York.

"If you look at the past three days, you could argue that we are past the plateau and we're starting to descend, which would be very good news," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his daily coronavirus briefing.

Still, some 2000 people were being hospitalised with Covid-19 every day, Cuomo said, and 36 of the latest New York deaths occurred at nursing homes, which have been ravaged by the pandemic nationwide.

In neighbouring New Jersey, some 40 percent of coronavirus deaths "are related in some way to long-term care" facilities, the state's health commissioner said.

New Jersey reported another 231 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total there past 4000.

The state's governor, Phil Murphy, said he had a "concerning" call with Senate minority leader and fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer, who told him there was no momentum right now in Congress to put "significant amounts or any amount" of funding into direct aid to states whose economies have been strangled by the pandemic.

Without federal aid, Murphy said, the state would see "historic" layoffs.

Saturday ended another week in which millions of Americans went without pay cheques. More than 20 million have filed for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks alone as closures of businesses and schools and severe travel restrictions to try to curb the virus's spread have hammered the US economy.