The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has passed a million, accounting for nearly a third of the total cases worldwide.
The figures, from tracking at Johns Hopkins University, show a worldwide death toll of more than 210,000, though the real numbers are likely to be higher owing to limited testing and differences in counting deaths.
States are beginning to lift their restrictions as the death toll from Covid-19 in the US surpasses the 58,220 service personnel killed in Vietnam.
Similarly, countries in Europe are beginning to loosen their lockdown restrictions, and France, Spain and Greece are among the latest to put forward roadmaps for restarting their economies.
But uncertainty about what people should do to protect their health after they emerge from lockdown remains.
In the US, this was highlighted in Georgia after businesses such as barber shops and tattoo parlours were given the go-ahead to reopen.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said people could find the changes perplexing, adding: “In reality we’re under a stay-at-home order until April 30.
“Yet you can go get your nails done, you can go get a tattoo, you can go to movie theatres, you can go to bowling alleys. It’s those kinds of things that leave people confused.”
Mixed messages are also coming from the US Congress.
The House is scrambling for ways for members to work from home after a revolt over convening during the pandemic, and said they would not return to the Capitol on Monday. The smaller Senate, however, plans to convene there.
The decisions people make are likely to vary widely depending on where they live, and how close that puts them to known virus clusters.
Elsewhere around the world, New Zealand reported just three new infections on Tuesday as the government loosened its lockdown.
Surfers hit the waves at dawn, builders returned to construction sites and baristas fired up espresso machines.
And in Australia, hundreds returned to Sydney’s Bondi Beach, though it was open only during daylight hours and social distancing was mandatory.
Emily Landon, who leads infection control at the University of Chicago Medical Centre, said: “I think everyone still needs to use their judgment. I’m not having a book club in my house. I’m going to my doctor for an allergy shot because that’s safe to do.
“You can try and make it political, make it about freedom, but it’s a virus. It’s biology. Biology doesn’t negotiate.”