The United States now leads the world in the number of confirmed cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus now devastating the globe.
As first reported by the New York Times, which has been keeping a running tally, more than 80,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the virus, eclipsing the number of diagnoses in hard-hit China and Italy. Data maintained by Johns Hopkins University shows the number of coronavirus cases exceeding 83,000, as of Thursday evening.
The news comes on the heels of today’s reports of unsuccessful attempts by the Trump reelection campaign to bury Democratic ads including his claim, from a February 28 campaign rally, that his mishandling of the covid-19 crisis was the Democrats’ “new hoax.” (The campaign’s cease-and-desist letters to television stations argue that the ads make it seem as though he was implying that covid-19 itself is a hoax; rather, the letter argues, he meant that his supposed sloppy disregard for the severity of the crisis was a hoax. But who cares at this point? Today’s report proves that they are patently correct in the assertion that he has profoundly fucked up.) On the date of the rally, the Centers for Disease Control reported 64 confirmed cases in the United States. On the same date, the New York Times reported more than 79,000 cases in China. Currently, the Times reports that China has 81,285 cases.
Two days ago, the president said that he would love to “have the country opened up” by Easter, even as reports indicated that the U.S. coronavirus death toll was doubling in the United States at a rate of every three days, as opposed to Italy, which doubled at five, and as mainland China’s curve was flattening.
Trump continues to eschew calls to enforce the wartime Defense Production Act, which would give the federal government more power over the manufacture and supply of critical medical equipment like respirators, which he has left states to compete for on their own. And he sent a letter to governors on Thursday saying that his administration planned to relax federal guidelines on social distancing, the rare effort shown to curb community spread of the virus, far earlier than health experts advise.
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reminded G20 leaders that infections have accelerated at a breakneck speed:
It took the world three months to reach 100,000 confirmed cases of infection. The next 100,000 happened in just 12 days. The third took four days. The fourth, just one and a half. This is exponential growth and only the tip of the iceberg.
Both the New York Times and Johns Hopkins University have reported approximately 1,200 deaths in the United States, about a third as many as in China, where a majority had apparently been infected for a month before they died.