US pandemic smolders as deaths near 200,000

Reuters
The death toll from the spread of the coronavirus in the United States approached over 200,000 yesterday, more than double the number of fatalities in India.
Reuters

The death toll from the spread of the coronavirus in the United States approached over 200,000 yesterday, more than double the number of fatalities in India, the country reporting the second-highest number of cases in the world.

During the early months of the pandemic, 200,000 deaths was regarded by many as the maximum number of lives likely to be lost in the United States to the virus.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump defended his handling of the crisis. He admitted to playing down the danger of the coronavirus early on because he did not want to “create a panic.”

With barely six weeks left before the election on November 3, Trump is behind Democratic rival Joe Biden nationally in every major opinion poll and is neck-and-neck in key swing states. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has battered his standing among many voters.

Trump has frequently questioned the advice of scientific experts on everything from the timing of a vaccine to reopening schools and businesses to wearing a mask. He has refused to support a national mask mandate and held large political rallies where few wore masks.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield recently told Congress that a face mask would provide more guaranteed protection than a vaccine, which would only be broadly available by “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”

Trump rejected the timeline for the vaccine and said that it may be available in a matter of weeks and ahead of the presidential election. On Friday he said he expects all Americans to have a vaccine by April.

Biden, who often wears a mask and has said he would require masks nationwide, has warned against a rushed release of a vaccine, saying, “Let me be clear: I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump.”

The CDC currently predicts that the US death toll will reach as high as 218,000 by October 10.

The University of Washington’s health institute is forecasting coronavirus fatalities reaching 378,000 by the end of 2020, with the daily death toll skyrocketing to 3,000 per day in December.

Over 70 percent of those in the United States who have died were over 65, according to CDC data.

The southern states of Texas and Florida accounted for the most deaths in the past two weeks, closely followed by California.

California, Texas and Florida — the three most populous states — have recorded the most coronavirus infections and have long surpassed the state of New York, which was the epicenter of the outbreak in early 2020. The country as a whole is reporting over 40,000 new infections on average each day.

As it battles a second wave of infections, the United States reported a 17 percent increase in the number of new cases last week compared with the previous seven days, with deaths rising 7 percent on average in the last, according to a Reuters analysis.

Six of every 10,000 residents in the US has died of the virus, according to Reuters data, one of the highest rates among developed nations.

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