U.S. COVID-19 cases top 1 mln, true number of infections likely “much higher”

U.S. COVID-19 cases top 1 mln, true number of infections likely “much higher”

Over 1 million people in the United States have been infected with COVID-19, with the death toll exceeding 57,000 on Tuesday, showed the latest data.

The country’s number of COVID-19 cases topped 1 million Tuesday afternoon, reaching 1,002,498 as of 1:55 p.m. (1755 GMT), with a total of 57,266 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

New York remains the hardest-hit state, with 291,996 cases and 22,668 deaths, followed by New Jersey where 111,188 cases and 6,442 deaths have been reported. Other states with over 40,000 cases include Massachusetts, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania, according to the CSSE.

TRUE NUMBER LIKELY “MUCH HIGHER”

The true number of U.S. infections is believed to be “much higher.”

“The 1 million figure does not include untold thousands of Americans who contracted the coronavirus but were not tested, either because they did not show symptoms or because of a persistent national testing shortage,” according to a report by The New York Times on Tuesday.

“Some disease researchers have estimated that the true number of infections may be somewhere around 10 times the known number, and preliminary testing of how many people have antibodies to the virus seems to support that view,” the report said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that nearly one-quarter of New York City residents tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, suggesting that COVID-19 spread farther than previously believed.

A sampling of 7,500 residents throughout the state were tested for the COVID-19 antibodies and results suggested 24.7 percent of New York City residents and 14.9 percent of state residents had been infected with the virus, Cuomo said.

Fifty-one percent of New Yorkers personally know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, and 32 percent know someone who died as a result of the virus, according to a new Siena College poll.

The deadly virus was likely to be spreading in multiple U.S. cities “far earlier” than Americans knew, reported The New York Times last week citing a new research.

In the five major U.S. cities — New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, there were only 23 confirmed cases as of March 1. However, according to a model of the spread of the disease by researchers at Northeastern University, there could have actually been about 28,000 infections in those cities by then.

Also, the virus spread on the West Coast weeks earlier than initially believed, according to new information released by California’s Santa Clara County.

In Santa Clara County, a 57-year-old woman died at home on Feb. 6, and a 69-year-old man died on Feb. 17.

“These patients apparently contracted the illness from community spread. This suggests that the virus was circulating in the Bay Area in January at least, probably earlier,” Santa Clara County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith told Xinhua.

FAILURE TO ACT TIMELY

To many, the staggering numbers of the COVID-19 cases and deaths came as a shock as the country arguably leads in medical and biological fields and boasts a well-equipped and accomplished public health system.

Experts attributed the crisis partly to the Trump administration’s failure to “act in a timely way” even as “the alarm bells were ringing from late December onward.”

“Unlike these Asian countries, Trump failed to prepare for the pandemic even after the alarm bells went off. He ignored urgent warning signs. He continued to make light of the high risks, saying repeatedly that everything was under control,” wrote Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, in an opinion piece posted on CNN.com earlier this month.

“He ignores the rudiments of basic public health and seems to view the epidemic in political and electoral rather than public health terms. As usual, he blames others for his own disastrous failings,” said Sachs in the article titled “Why the US has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 deaths.”

“We are still far from any coherent national plan… We would be doing, in short, what the Asian countries have been doing to control the epidemic,” said Sachs.

An investigative report recently published by The Washington Post listed four major mistakes the White House made over the first 70 days of the coronavirus crisis that now stands as “critical time that was squandered.”

First, the White House and its public health officials mistakenly placed their trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for being able to develop a diagnostic test on its own.

On Feb. 6, when the World Health Organization shipped 250,000 test kits to labs around the world, “the CDC began distributing 90 kits to a smattering of state-run health labs.” The scarcity of effective tests left top officials largely blind to the true dimensions of the outbreak, the report wrote.

Second, decision-makers made an erroneous assessment of the outbreak and on most occasions lagged weeks behind the curve.

Over a month into the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump held 10 campaign rallies across the nation and visited his golf courses six times. At times, Trump talked far more about stock market than the spread of the virus, the report pointed out.

The third mistake is that the protracted argument between the White House and public health agencies over funding let the narrow window of a timely response slip away; and the fourth one is that infighting, turf wars and abrupt leadership changes “hobbled the work of the coronavirus task force.”

“Beyond the suffering in store for thousands of victims and their families, the outcome has altered the international standing of the United States, damaging and diminishing its reputation as a global leader in times of extraordinary adversity,” concluded The Washington Post. Xinhuanet

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