United States becomes leading country in COVID-19 cases, deaths

Photo courtesy of Jen Killion/East Pierce Fire & Rescue

By Olivia Capasso || Junior Editor

Since December 2019 the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has spread globally and rapidly from where it originated in Wuhan, China.  As of 11:00am on April 12th, 2020, the data provided by Johns Hopkins University has reported that 185 countries worldwide have cases of COVID-19 within their borders, the United States taking the lead with 530,200.  According to Healthdata.org, trends suggest that certain countries such as Spain and Italy have begun to flatten their curve and are now seeing fewer cases and deaths each day. However, other parts of Europe that have only just been struck by the pandemic that has spread from the south are expected to peak in cases and deaths during the third week of April. The mortality rate is predicted to fluctuate in correspondence with the relative preparedness of each country.  In the UK, for example, the projected demand for hospital beds at 102,794 far outweighs the amount currently available for use, 17,765.

The United States, however, has merely begun its battle containing the fast-moving virus.  According to the New York Times, up to 2,000 people within the US are dying each day from COVID-19, and the death toll has surpassed that of Italy at 20,614. Upwards of half a million cases have been reported nationwide, and those numbers are still climbing. However, CNN has stated that new research suggests that there will likely be fewer deaths overall as a result of the virus than originally predicted, now at 60,415 by August. That also means that the quarantine measures that are in place, including the closures of academic institutions and businesses, could last until the end of the summer.  At the same time, there is also the potential that those restrictions could be lifted if replaced by strict screening, testing, and selective quarantining. Either way, the decline in the anticipated death toll is contingent upon all practicing social distancing and avoiding public locations as much as possible.

According to ABC News, since the beginning of the outbreak, 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance, nearly 7 million of those filing since just last week. That number does not include workers still trying to work their way through the filing system, as many have reported long wait times or crashing websites for their state unemployment offices. The service industry has been hit the hardest, along with retail, construction, and manufacturing industries.  Just a few months ago, unemployment rates were nearing a 50 year all time low, a figure which has now skyrocketed due to the pandemic’s detrimental impact on the US labor market. Many economists say the United States is now in a recession. 

President Trump has vocalized his desire to reopen the US economy, despite a rising number of COVID-19 cases, within the month of May.  This will likely be met with much deliberation between Trump’s health and economic advisers who hold differing priorities with respect to the course of the pandemic. Researchers and advisers uphold that widespread testing is crucial for the consideration of lifting the quarantine mandate in any area. Without that, reopening schools and businesses would be a premature move that could have disastrous consequences. However, more rural and less populated areas of the US could potentially be reopened quicker if they are closely monitored and determined as being low risk for spreading the virus.

First-year Olivia Capasso is the junior editor. Her email is ocapasso@fandm.edu.

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