CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. has overtaken Italy for the highest death toll in the world from the coronavirus, as Chicago and other cities across the Midwest brace for a potential surge in victims and moved to snuff out smoldering hot spots of contagion before they erupt.

With the New York metropolitan still deep in crisis, fear is mounting over the spread of the virus into the nation’s heartland. Twenty-four residents of an Indiana nursing home hit by COVID-19 have died.

Chicago’s Cook County has set up a temporary morgue that can take more than 2,000 bodies. And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been going around telling groups of people to “break it up.”

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