US coronavirus death crosses 100,000, cases now over 1.7 million

In this May 22, 2020 photo, people walk past American flags flying at half-staff at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, US.

In this May 22, 2020 photo, people walk past American flags flying at half-staff at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, US. AP/Patrick Semansky

By Tom McCarthy | The Guardian

ON THE WEB, 27 May 2020

The United States has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, moving past a grim milestone even as many states relax mitigation measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The US has recorded more deaths from the disease than any other country in the pandemic, and almost three times as many as the second-ranking country, Britain, which has recorded more than 37,000 Covid-19 deaths.

The latest count of fatalities is 100,047 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Earlier this month, Donald Trump said 100,000 deaths would be “horrible”, but he claimed that actions by his administration had prevented a much higher toll.

The death toll in the United States is still climbing, however, and federal officials warn that the likely actual toll from the coronavirus is higher than the official figure.

A tracking project by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) of “excess deaths” in each state beyond seasonal averages suggests the official count of Covid-19 deaths could leave out thousands of cases.

“These deaths could represent misclassified Covid-19 deaths, or potentially could be indirectly related to Covid-19 (eg, deaths from other causes occurring in the context of healthcare shortages or overburdened healthcare systems),” the CDC said.

Joe Biden, Trump’s presumed opponent in the upcoming presidential election, said that Trump had mismanaged the crisis. “So much of this could have been prevented if we had a president who listened to someone other than himself,” Biden said in a statement.

The first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States emerged on 20 January, in Washington state, the same day that a first case was confirmed in South Korea. Months ensued in which the White House told states they would receive minimal federal support in obtaining testing kits, ventilators, protective equipment and other gear.

The United States has increased its testing capacity but has yet to stand up a national plan for the contact tracing of positive cases, a step South Korea took immediately. That country has since recorded 269 deaths from coronavirus.

Across Europe, the virus exacted a terrible toll. Eight of the 10 countries with the top per-capita rates of Covid-19 deaths are in Europe; the United States ranks ninth on that list, with about 30 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Britain is third, with 55.64 deaths per 100,000.

Health experts warn that the United States can expect millions more Covid-19 cases and a tragic number of deaths to come, unless the virus takes an unprecedented and unforeseen vector. With regional infection rates varying from about 5-20%, most experts believe the virus will continue to churn through the US population until the overall rate of infection is 50-60% – or until a vaccine is widely administered.

Updated on 27 May 2020, at 19:25 pm.
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