The United States now has the most coronavirus cases in the world with more than 86,000 confirmed infections, overtaking China which has claimed some 81,000 cases.
With 1,200 deaths from the disease the US is still some way behind hardest-hit Italy, where almost 7,000 people have been killed – though disease experts have warned the American death toll could eventually top 80,000.
The number of coronavirus infections has now topped half a million worldwide with more than 20,000 dead, as the World Health Organisation warning that the US is likely to overtake Europe as the new epicenter of the disease.
Despite the grim figures released Thursday, Donald Trump claimed that figures being released by China – which has claimed zero new domestic infections in recent days – could not be trusted, and that higher rates of testing in the US were behind the surge in cases.
He also accused Andrew Cuomo – governor of hardest-hit New York – of exaggerating the state’s need for ventilators, a key piece of equipment used to keep coronavirus patients in critical condition alive. 177 people died in New York City alone between Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top disease expert, was forced to again pour cold water on Trump’s repeated suggestion that the US could be back open for business by April 12.
America has now surpassed China and Italy to report the largest number of coronavirus infections anywhere in the world at more than 86,000, though Italy still has the most deaths with more than 6,000 people killed
Coronavirus infections have been following an exponential growth curve in the US, roughly doubling every three days which is the same as was seen in European nations before they went into full lockdown
The US is now on a worse trajectory than China and Italy, which have both put draconian lockdowns into place, and South Korea which was initially one of the virus hotspots but used aggressive testing and contact tracing measures to bring the infection rate under control
Figures show that a week after the tenth death New York’s toll doubled nearly every 1.5 days; the worst-hit region of Italy, Lombardy, saw a doubling every three days. Cases have also accelerated at a faster rate in the US, than in Italy
‘I think what the President was trying to do, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope,’ Facui – who was briefly banished from coronavirus press briefings after contradicting Trump – told CNN.
‘But he’s listening to us when we say that we’ve really got to reevaluate it in real time, and any decision we make has to be based on the data,’ he added.
New York City officials have said that 177 people died from coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths to 365 as of early Friday morning.
City health officials also said late Thursday that there were an additional 1,239 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total across the five boroughs to 23,112.
New York State continues to report the bulk of coronavirus infections that have so far been confirmed in the United States.
Health officials in Albany said on Thursday that the statewide tally of infected people reached 39,140.
The state also recorded 457 deaths as of late Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a Thursday press conference that 200 inmates were released from jail facilities across the city in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The New York City mayor called the news a ‘major, major milestone,’ adding that an additional 175 inmates would be released be the end of the night.
De Blasio touted that the jail population was now below 5,000, marking the first time the number was that low since 1949.
Trump departs after addressing the coronavirus task force daily briefing as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stands by
Cities including New Orleans, Miami and Chicago each have more than 1,500 cases – unlike China where no area outside Hubei ever reached that. A total of 12 states have already surpassed 1,500 cases each
While New York is America’s epicenter for the virus, analysts have identified 11 other hotspots for the virus that have the potential for mass-breakouts of the kind not seen in other badly-hit countries.
Washington, California, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas all have more than 1,500 cases of the disease each – far more than any Chinese region other than Hubei province during the outbreak there.
A draconian lockdown by Chinese authorities virtually cut off infected areas from each-other during the outbreak, confining the disease to Hubei. This has not happened in the US, allowing the infection to spread.
Louisiana is now emerging as the possible next epicenter of the US outbreak after infections rose by 30 percent in 24 hours. That state recorded 2,305 infections and 83 deaths by Thursday. Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans has been blamed for the outbreak there.
New Jersey has 6,876 confirmed cases and 81 deaths, while California has 3,899 cases and 81 deaths. Washington state, which was initially the epicenter following an outbreak at a Seattle nursing home, now has 3,207 confirmed cases and 150 deaths.
It comes as new research showed the outbreak could lead to more than 80,000 deaths in the US within the next four months and overwhelm hospital capacity nationally as soon as early April even if social distancing measures are respected.
Forecasters at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine have predicted that during the epidemic peak – set for some point in April – as many as 2,300 patients could die every day.
This was the case even if the population adhered to strict social distancing measures.
Their predictions came after analyzing the latest COVID-19 data, including hospitalization and mortality rates, as well as patient date in terms of age, gender and pre-existing health problems.
The analysis warned that based on current trends, demand for both ICU beds and ventilators would far exceed capacity for COVID-19 patients as early as the second week of April.
It comes as health care systems in both New York and Europe buckled under the weight of caring for seriously ill victims as officials desperately searched for enough ventilators to keep them alive.
New York City’s convention center is now being turned into a temporary hospital and a makeshift morgue was set up outside Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday to cope with a possible surge in victims.
Public health officials in New York hunted down beds and medical equipment and put out a call for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick will explode in a matter of weeks, overwhelming hospitals as has happened in Italy and Spain.
In a preview of what might be ahead for the US, Spain has converted hotels into makeshift hospitals and turned an ice rink in Madrid into a temporary morgue. The curve of infections has not slowed in Spain, which now has more than 4,100 deaths, second only to Italy’s death toll.
Faced with the exponential spread of the pandemic, the US Senate passed a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems.
Millions of Americans hoped the measure would give them a lifeline as they lost jobs, income and child care due to the social-distancing rules needed to slow the spread of the virus.
At least 1.5 billion people across the world are now under severe travel restrictions.
But the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, scolded world leaders for wasting precious time in the fight against the virus that has already killed more than 21,000 people, thrown millions out of work and ravaged the world economy.
He called it ‘public enemy No. 1.’
Across the US, roughly half of the population have been affected by stay-at-home orders in at least 18 states.
The sweeping orders are aimed at slowing the spread of the pathogen but have upended daily life as schools and businesses shutter indefinitely.