Mar 26, 2020 - Health

U.S. leads world in confirmed coronavirus cases for first time

The U.S. Capitol reflected in the side of a standby ambulance on March 26, 2020. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The United States on Thursday reported the most coronavirus cases in the world for the first time, over China and Italy with at least 82,404 infections and more than 1,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Why it matters: From the beginning, the U.S. — with a population of more than 325 million — has repeatedly underestimated and reacted slowly to the coronavirus, prolonging its economic pain and multiplying its toll on Americans’ health.

First, it happened with testing — a delay that allowed the virus to spread undetected, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Then we were caught flat-footed by the surge in demand for medical supplies in emerging hotspots.
  • And the Trump administration declined to issue a national shelter-in-place order. The resulting patchwork across the country left enough economic hubs closed to crash the economy, but enough places up and running to allow the virus to continue to spread rampantly.

What they're saying: At a press conference Thursday, President Trump attributed the U.S. overtaking China to ramped up testing, before casting doubt on whether the Chinese government is reporting accurate numbers.

  • It is possible that China, which was the site of the original coronavirus outbreak, has been underreporting its cases.
  • The Chinese government covered up the outbreak in its first few weeks, likely allowing the virus to spread both domestically and throughout the rest of the world.

Flashback: Exactly one month ago on Feb. 26, President Trump said at a coronavirus press briefing that the U.S. has 15 reported cases and that "the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero."

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Coronavirus updates: Italy records deadliest day with nearly 1,000 dead

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Italy on Friday reported 969 COVID-19 deaths over a 24-hour period, marking the deadliest single-day for the country since the global outbreak began, according to data from the Health Ministry.

The big picture: The U.S. now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 600,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, as infections in the U.S. topped 100,000 and more cities experience spikes of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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Boris Johnson: Coronavirus outbreak in U.K. is only weeks behind Italy

Photo: Julian Simmonds/WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that a surge of coronavirus cases over the next two weeks could cripple the country's National Health Service (NHS), Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Johnson said the U.K., in terms of cases, is only "a matter of weeks — two or three — behind Italy," which overtook China last week as the country with the most reported deaths from the virus.

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