Trump struggled to reassure a fearful nation on Thursday as it emerged the U.S. now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
Washington| The U.S. has surpassed Italy and China in having the most confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a global case tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.
California now has 3,910 cases and 80 deaths, a major spike over the last few days. State officials say the COVID-19 growth rate is such that it could overwhelm hospitals in the coming days and weeks.
As of Thursday afternoon, the United States was reporting more than 82,400 cases, above China’s tally of more than 81,700 and Italy’s count of more than 80,500.
“It’s a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing,” Trump told reporters. “We’re doing tremendous testing, and I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing. I think that’s a little hard.”
While the US has increased its testing capacity in recent days the process has been flawed and incoherent, and the country still lags behind leaders such as South Korea in terms of the number of tests administered per-capita.
On a grim day, the death toll in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 and it was revealed that last week 3.3 million people filed for unemployment – the biggest single-week jump in history. The president has been widely condemned for failing to act fast enough, misjudging the public mood and seeking to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility.
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Trump said of the jobless figure. “Certainly not in this country. Nobody’s fault. We got very lucky when we made a decision not to allow people in from China on a very early date. I say that because some people don’t want to accept it, but this was a great decision made by our country or the numbers that you’re talking about – we’re a big country – they’d be far greater, far bigger.”
With 330 million residents, the United States is the world’s third most populous nation, meaning it provides a vast pool of people who can potentially get Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Now, at least 160 million Americans have been ordered to stay home in states from California to New York. Schools are closed, often along with bars, restaurants and many other businesses. Hospitals are coping with soaring numbers of patients in New York City, even as supplies of essential protective gear and equipment dwindle.
Other hospitals, other communities fear what may be coming.
“We are the new global epicentre of the disease,” said Dr Sara Keller, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“Now, all we can do is to slow the transmission as much as possible by hunkering down in our houses while, as a country, we ramp up production of personal protective equipment, materials needed for testing, and ventilators.”