WASHINGTON: The United States on Saturday became the first country in the world to have more than 100,000 cases of deadly viral disease known as coronavirus.
As the rising infections alarmed Americans, Microsoft founder Bill Gates suggested shutting the entire country for 6-10 weeks to effectively fight the rapidly spreading virus.
With more than 105,000 cases reported by Saturday afternoon, the United States has surpassed both Italy and China in infection counts. China, the worst hit since the viral breakout began in its Wuhan province in December 2019, is now third on the infection chart with 81,996 confirmed cases.
Statistics provided by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center in Washington, however, showed that compared to other affected nations, fatalities in the United States remained relatively low – 1,710.
“All US 50 states have reported cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus),” the official US monitoring agency — Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — reported. Of these, “27 states are reporting … community spread” of this virus. The US media reported that New York city was the new global epicentre of the epidemic.
CDC identified three main strains of infection in the United States, “imported cases in travelers, cases among close contacts of a known case and community-acquired cases where the source is unknown.”
The United States experienced a meteoric rise in infections the past week, pushing it from the fourth to the first slot on the chart.
Within the United States, New York is the worst affected with 46,094 confirmed cases and 450 deaths. The adjacent state of New Jersey is second with 8.825 cases and 125 deaths.
California reported 4,885 cases and 20 deaths. Washington state reported 3,727 cases and 125 deaths.
The CDC warned that the United States was still “in the initiation phase of the pandemic,” pointing out that “the duration and severity” in each place “can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.”
CDC’s preliminary data indicated that fatality in the United States was the highest in persons aged 85 and above, ranging from 10 to 27 percent, followed by 3 to 11 percent among persons aged 65–84, 1 to 3 percent among persons aged 55-64, and 1 percent among persons aged 20–54.
On Friday, the US media blamed “a series of missteps and lost opportunities” — and President Trump’s continued refusal to recognise the threat — for the outbreak.
Although President Trump continues to insist that the situation would soon return to normal, most Americans appeared preparing for a long shutdown. All major cities looked deserted, with shopping malls and offices closed and people working from home. There’s no rush on the highways even during busy hours.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020