The US is the first country to record more than 2000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day - and Donald Trump now says he faces the biggest decision of his life.
The New York Times reports the latest death toll is 20,110 - as many as 2000 people are dying each day.
According to forecast models, the US is expected to experience its worst single day of deaths on Easter Sunday. The toll has eclipsed that of Italy, which stood at 19,468 after 619 deaths were recorded in a day.
The total number of confirmed cases around the world passed 1.7 million, with more than 500,000 in the US.
Mitigation measures, including stay-at-home orders in 42 states, have led to warnings that the US could face its worst economic crisis since the 1930s. More than 15 million jobs have been lost in three weeks.
Donald Trump says he now faces a tough decision: when to reopen the economy.
"I want to get it open as soon as possible. I'm going to have to make a decision and I hope to God that it's the right decision.
"Without question it's the biggest decision I've ever had to make."
Asked what metrics he would use, the President pointed at his head and said: "The metrics right here, that's my metrics."
Trump intends, in the coming days, to set up an "Opening our Country" task force.
It is expected to be led by Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, and include Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser.
Federal guidelines on social distancing run out on April 30, and White House officials indicate they want to open as much of the country as possible on May 1.
However, Dr Ashish Jha, director of Harvard's global health institute, said: "We are far from able to open May 1, it's completely unrealistic. We need to scale up our [virus] testing massively."
He suggested some of the millions now unemployed could carry out mass testing. Forecasts suggest some US states will not reach the height of cases until next month. Virginia's peak is due on May 20.
About 40 per cent of deaths have been in New York State, including 783 on Friday.
Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said the number of admissions into intensive care was on a "downward slope" and the death rate was "stabilising, but stabilising at a horrific rate".
Cuomo said he had been sent a portrait of his hero Sir Winston Churchill by Edwina Sandys, the wartime prime minister's granddaughter.
Quoting Churchill, Cuomo said: "It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, said public schools, which had been due to reopen on April 20, would stay closed for the rest of the school year, but Cuomo said the mayor's edict was merely an "opinion" and he would make a decision on the issue soon.
Figures emerged showing that more than 40 per cent of those who have died in the US were black, despite making up only 13 per cent of the population.
Jerome Adams, the US surgeon general, who is black, made a plea to minority communities to follow social distancing guidelines.