US deaths from the novel coronavirus has topped 25,700, according to a Reuters tally, as officials debated how to reopen the economy without reigniting the outbreak.

The United States, with the world's third-largest population, passed a second milestone today with over 600,000 reported cases, three times more than any other country.

US deaths rose by a record 2,082 today with a few states yet to report. The previous record was 2,069 new deaths in a day set on 10 April.

Health experts had forecast deaths would peak this week and last week but there had been hopes the worst was behind the US when new deaths reported on Sunday and yesterday were about 1,500 per day, far below last week's running tally of roughly 2,000 deaths every 24 hours, according to a Reuters tally.

Through yesterday, deaths have increased by about 7% per day on average compared with 14% last week and 30% many days in March, according to a Reuters tally. 

Cases through yesterday are up an average of 5% per day compared with 7.8% last week and 30% per day in March.

Sweeping stay-at-home restrictions on 94% of the population to curb the spread of the illness have taken a painful toll on the economy.

The shutdown is costing the U.S. economy perhaps $25 billion a day in lost output, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he would refuse any order by US President Donald Trump that would begin the process of reopening the economy before it was safe to do so without reigniting the coronavirus outbreak in his state.

Mr Cuomo and the governors of six other north-eastern states said yesterday they would formulate a regional plan to gradually lift social-distancing restrictions that have shut down non-essential businesses and schools. Health officials credit the shutdown with slowing the spread of the virus in New York.

On the Pacific Coast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington state said they also would take a regional approach but cautioned that any large-scale reopening would depend on a decline in the rate of spread in their area.

Soon after the announcements, Mr Trump asserted he had the ultimate authority to reopen the largely shuttered economy even though he earlier had deferred to state governors in putting social-distancing orders in place.

At a briefing yesterday, Mr Trump pushed back against the actions of governors in determining when and how to reopen the economy, saying: "The president of the United States calls the shots."

"When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that's the way it's got to be. ... It's total. The governors know that."

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He said they could not do anything without his approval.

"If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn't do it," Mr Cuomo said in an interview with CNN, referring to the president.

Mr Cuomo said any reopening would have to come in phases and take months to complete. Widespread testing was the key to a successful restart, he said.

The New York governor, who has made a point of saying policy should be guided by science and not politics, cautioned that a premature order by Mr Trump would set off a federal clash with the states that would end up in court.

Today, Mr Trump responded to Democrat governors on Twitter, referencing the movie 'Mutiny On The Bounty'.

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Some of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans also said it was the states, not the president, who would decide when to reopen their economies.

"It's the governors that are going to make decisions about when certain activities are allowed," US Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, told CNBC in an interview today.

"Obviously, the guidance from the federal government coming from the White House is going to be very influential in that."


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Mr Trump also said he did not intend to fire his administration's leading expert on the subject, who had said earlier mitigation efforts could have saved more lives.

The president invited Dr Anthony Fauci to the stage in the opening minutes of the briefing to make clear that Mr Trump had followed his recommendations on putting mitigation efforts into place across the country.

Mr Trump, who played down the seriousness of the virus in its initial stages, has chafed at media coverage suggesting he did not do enough to prevent its spread.

On Sunday, he retweeted a call to fire Dr Fauci after the top US expert on infectious diseases said lives could have been saved if the country had shut down sooner during the outbreak.

At yesterday's briefing, Dr Fauci said he was answering a hypothetical question in the television interview and made clear that Mr Trump had listened to him when he recommended mitigation efforts.

Mr Trump said he and Dr Fauci had been on the same page "from the beginning" and declared he liked the respected doctor. "I think he's a wonderful guy," Mr Trump said, while adding that not everyone was happy with the health expert.

Dr Fauci has assumed national prominence - and a degree of popular affection - as a leader in the fight against the coronavirus.