Cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. have surpassed that of any other country, with more than 86,000 confirmed incidents, over 1,300 fatalities and 753 recoveries, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The country is the new epicenter of the outbreak, having usurped the total number of cases in both China and Italy. The virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, a city in China's Hubei province, has spread to nearly 551,000 people across 176 countries and regions, including nearly 81,900 in China. Almost 127,500 have recovered from infection, including nearly 74,200 in China. The global death toll has passed 24,900, with nearly 3,300 deaths in China.
At least 552,000 virus tests have been performed and completed all across the country, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed at a White House press briefing on Thursday. But the official count of how many have been tested in the U.S. has yet to be reported. Newsweek has contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation on the latest figure.
There are more than 150 countries and territories reporting fewer than 100 cases, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.
More cases have been reported outside China than within and the country claims the outbreak has now been mostly contained. But China continues to battle a growing number of imported cases. This week the country announced a temporary ban on all foreigners from entering the country. Airlines have been restricted to one flight per week in a bid to prevent a second wave of widespread infections.
At least 22 states in the country have issued a "stay at home" order requiring residents to remain at home.
The orders have seen all non-essential services, including bars and restaurants, entertainment venues and other places of public gatherings, closed as part of Trump's 15-day plan to slow the spread of the virus.
The 22 states that have been issued with a stay at home order include:
While the U.S. is now the epicenter of the outbreak, the president on Thursday announced his plan to potentially loosen social distancing measures in parts of the country.
In a letter to U.S. governors, Trump wrote: "My Administration is working to publish new guidelines for State and local policymakers to use in making decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.
"This is what we envision: Our expanded testing capabilities will quickly enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation's public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risks posed by the virus," the letter continued.
"This will incorporate robust surveillance testing, which allows us to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country. Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk."
According to television host Joe Scarborough: "More Americans died today in New York City of the Coronavirus than died in Afghanistan over the past 5 years. The President needs to get serious about this pandemic now. It is only going to get worse," he wrote in a post on his official Twitter account on Thursday.
New York City has reported at least 21,393 positive cases, including 365 fatalities, with 3,537 new cases in the last day, according to the latest report from the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The state as a whole has been overwhelmed with at least 37,258 infections, including 6,448 new confirmed cases across 39 counties.
Earlier this week, U.S. health experts on the COVID-19 virus task force led by Pence have expressed they remain "deeply concerned" over the growing outbreak in the state.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician and health expert on the virus task force, said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday: "We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area."
She warned that "everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it's Florida, North Carolina, or out to far, far reaches of Long Island."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a member of the virus task force, noted that about one per thousand people in New York are infected, which is "about 8 to 10 times more than in other areas," he said at a White House briefing earlier this week.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 casesthe disease caused by the new strain of coronavirusin a selection of states.
The virus outbreak in the U.S. has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people. The CDC reports at least 66,730 cases are under investigation, while at least 1,074 cases have been cases of close contact with an infected person and 636 cases are travel-related.
President Donald Trump has approved disaster declarations across New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and Missouri.
New Jersey reported at least 2,492 new positive cases on Thursday, bringing the state total to 6,876 cases, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy confirmed in a post on his official Twitter account. The majority of the cases (1,206) have been in Bergen County, followed by Essex County (609) and Hudson County (441).
"With our major disaster declaration approved, New Jersey will now have access to greater essential federal support to help our residents through this emergency," Murphy said.
Illinois has seen 26 deaths and 2,538 confirmed cases, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported on Thursday.
Missouri has seen 502 cases and eight fatalities, as of Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Maryland has at least 580 cases, including four deaths, according to the latest report by the state's health department.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S.
Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.
Mask and glove usage