The United States hit a grim milestone on Thursday, becoming the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide.
The U.S. had more than 82,000 reported cases across all 50 states and U.S. territories, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It has now surpassed China’s and Italy’s coronavirus case totals, previously the highest in the world. The next highest case numbers are in Spain, France, Germany and Iran.
More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, so far. Several countries still have more deaths linked to COVID-19 than the U.S., including Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France, per the World Health Organization.
In New York, the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. at this point, there were more than 37,000 confirmed cases across the state as of Thursday, and more than 385 people had died. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned that the state’s hospitals will likely become overwhelmed.
As broad swaths of the United States have ordered nonessential businesses to shutter and millions of residents to stay at home, nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week alone — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982.
The Senate passed a $2 trillion economic rescue legislation package on Wednesday, which includes expanded unemployment insurance benefits. The House is expected to pass it without making changes on Friday.
President Donald Trump spent weeks repeatedly downplaying the virus, and earlier this week expressed his hope that the country would reopen in time for Easter — in less than three weeks. Meanwhile cases and death tolls are mounting in the U.S., and experts are calling for continued measures that enforce widespread social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.
After weeks of states demanding more capacity to test people for the virus — including actual complete test kits from the federal government — testing has only recently begun to ramp up nationwide, with the numbers of confirmed positive cases expected to mount accordingly.
Meanwhile, states have called out the lack of critical medical equipment, like ventilators, and hospitals and health workers have reported a shortage of personal protective equipment they need to stay healthy while treating patients with the virus.
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