(NBC News) The staggering toll of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to grow. As of Thursday more than 450,000 people are infected in the United States, and more than 16,000 have died.
The fight to control the virus has been especially hard for first responders, working around the clock in extreme conditions.
“A lot of them are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained,” says Vincent Variale, president of New York’s Uniformed EMS Officers Union.
Still, there are glimmers of hope emerging. More patients are leaving hospitals alive, and there are other signs the tide could be shifting.
“The mitigation, the physical separation that we’ve initiated, is starting to have a real effect now,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Officials have now lowered estimates of those expected to be lost in the outbreak, but stress everyone must remain vigilant.
“The last thing we can afford is let down our guard and let this disease back in the door even more and see the numbers spike up,” warns New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The pain, the illness, the death spike up even worse because we let down our guard.
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