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USA's deadliest day: More than 1,700 fall victim to COVID-19 on Tuesday

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A patient is wheeled to an ambulance in New York
A patient is wheeled to an ambulance in New York   -   Copyright  AP
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More than 1,700 people in the US died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the country's deadliest day so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

New York City alone made up 731 of those who died, taking the city’s total death toll past 4,000 - surpassing the number killed in the World Trade Centre terror attack of September 11 2001.

With hospitals in the city pushed to the brink, work began to turn the Cathedral of St John the Divine - the world’s sixth largest church - into another coronavirus field hospital.

The city’s governor Andrew Cuomo said there was “a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers”, but added that the number of new hospitalisations seemed to be slowing.

“You see that plateauing — that’s because of what we are doing. If we don’t do what we are doing, that is a much different curve,” Cuomo said. “So social distancing is working.”

The US now has almost 13,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and by far the most cases of any country in the world, with 400,000 confirmed.

President Donald Trump threatened to freeze funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming it has “missed the call” on the pandemic, and accusing it of being “very China-centric”.

Health experts have suggested that the weekly death totals will reach a new high in the US this week.

Vice President Mike Pence said the Centers for Disease Control will release new guidelines this week for returning to work for people with potential exposure but who may not be displaying symptoms.

Trump continued on Tuesday to defend his actions in the early days of the crisis, saying he was not aware of memos that have recently been released, which warned in late January that coronavirus could cost the US trillions of dollars and put millions at risk of illness or death.

And as the country struggles to deal with the outbreak, some public health experts and privacy campaigners are concerned about authorities collecting information about people who have tested positive for the virus, and sharing it with emergency services, NBC reports.

A number of cities and states are operating a system of sharing names and addresses of people who have tested positive, which police say helps to keep emergency service personnel safe if they respond to calls at the homes of people who have been infected.

"With any infectious disease, there's going to be stigma and discrimination about who has it," Robert Greenwald, a professor and the director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, told NBC.

"If you're in a situation now where the word starts to get out that if you get screened then your address goes on a list that goes to first responders, it discourages screening for people who don't want to be on this list."